Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sha'ab Abu Hamra / Elphinstone Reef

Sha'ab Abu Hamra / Elphinstone Reef  - Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad
Located 20 km off Marsa Alam’s shore, Elphinstone Reef is a great diving site, especially for the wall diving enthusiasts. The reef is 500 metres long, and its walls drop to spectacular depths of more than 100 metres. The strong currents make it a perfect destination for drift diving, but since it is a deep dive, it is only advised for experienced divers.

Ahmed F.Gad giving the Pre-Dive briefing about Elphinstone Reef - Photo by/ Tarek Ibrahim
Photo by/ Marco De Santis - All rights reserved

The map show the position of (Sha'ab Abu Hamra) Elphinstone Reef
Large school of Hammerhead sharks Copy rights reserved to www.seawatch.org 
Photo by/ Marco De Santis - All rights reserved

Thousands of anthias blocking your view as you swim by the walls - Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2012
School of Trevally close to the northern platue  - Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
Soft Coral - Photo by/ Tarek Ibrahim
Gorgonia / Fan Coral - Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
Photo by/ Marco De Santis - All rights reserved
Photo by/ Marco De Santis - All rights reserved
The east side is a great drop off and the west wall is less steep and slightly sandier. Overall both sides has a lot of soft corals, sponges, huge fan corals and sea whips - Photo by/ Marco De Santis - All rights reserved
As you swim closer to the shallows you'll join up with the wall covered in gorgonian fans and intricately carved with overhangs and cracks. This majestic underwater tapestry of the Red Sea is brightly coloured by purple and orange anthias, angelfish and emperors go about their daily business, and flutemouths move stealthily through the shallows.
The reef is covered with soft corals and the underwater fauna species you’ll spot there are extremely diversified. These include barracudas, angel fish, groupers, and morays, only to name a few. The occasional visitors include white tip and grey reef sharks, as well as hammerheads.

No strangers to Elphinstone's Southern Plateau and frequently spotted are oceanic white tip sharks, seemingly always accompanied by pilot fish. These sharks seem curious of divers and often return for a surprise second look. Oceanic whitetips are rare sightings for divers elsewhere in the world, so this fish, perhaps more than any other, has come to represent what's so special about diving in the Red Sea South. Best time for an encounter - October until the end of December. - Copyrights reserved to www.apexpredators.com    
Divers hitting the surface of Elphinstone -  Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2011

Banana like Sha'ab Abu Hamra or Elphinstone reef extends some 500m in length and is one of the best dive sites in the south of Egypt, and one of the best 20 dive sites worldwide.
Its spectacular walls plunge vertically on both sites to more than 150m and are covered in beautiful development of soft and hard corals.
Diving at Elphinstone reef means diving at a place where you can meet it all: hammerhead sharks, grey reef sharks and whitetip reef sharks are circling around the northern plateau. .The western and eastern walls are covered with soft corals and all the life the Red Sea has got to offer. 

Photo by/ Marco De Santis - All rights reserved
Popular with liveaboards, daily boats and speed boats due to the possibility of seeing larger marine life due to the reef location and the currents that pass by it.  Seasonal factors should be considered when setting your expectations for what you will see on dives at this site.  The following have all been seen here hammerhead, oceanic white tip, reef, tiger and even whale sharks.

Safety is ALWAYS first, Use your Surface Marker Buoy when surface - Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad
Where you are dropped in will depend on the currents on the day you visit.  The corals are beautiful along both walls and you will see lots of life without having to work hard. Currents can range from neglible to very strong here so dive guides are likely to promote safety strongly and will normally require divers to have demonstrated good buoyancy control before diving here.

They said about it:

"Elphinstone is a fantastic drift dive. Large shoals of tuna and a turtle were the highlight of the dives. Excellent and exhilarating. "
Steve Ivell, 2009
"We dived the north in early July and at 34 m saw a 3.5m Tiger shark! Breath taking! "
Martyn Slater, 2009

"Arch was awesome done it twice...the rock is really like a sarcophagus. You can get through at around 55 m. "
Paul Zannini
"Great dive but can be frightening in strong current."
Bob Smitherman

"After ten minutes one big manta was coming from east of the reef: spectacular "
Alessandro, Italy, 2008 

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