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Underwater photography by Andy Kirkland

Sharm, August 2008

Back to Sharm for another summer on RasMo and Tiran. Stu came over for the first week.

The diving was still good, but it was a pretty mixed trip …

The highlights …

Certainly, the last day. 13 hammerheads next to Jackson Reef (at last), the annual stork migration – thousands of birds streaming across the Tiran strait on their way to Africa (even they go to RasMo for their holidays !), and Eagle ray on my last dive and – to top it all – a lunar eclipse as I finished off my beer in the Camel Bar.

And the second day – a whale shark (Stu saw it … I missed it !) on the way out to Tiran, and the Risso’s dolphins (photos below) on the way back.

And the third day … a longnose hawkfish on Shark Reef and a Ghost pipefish next to the Yolande wreck. Honest.

The beautiful north side of Woodhouse Reef – the first time I’ve dived it – and Ras Zata’arĀ – another “first” on this wonderful wall dive.

The downsides …

Top of the list would be the flights (Monarch). Delayed by 5 hours on the way out and 6 hours on the way back. Had to pay extra to keep my room, and book Ā½ day off work on the Monday …

… if I hadn’t flooded 2 cameras and a strobe. By day 6. I was surprised to find that apparently SLRs are virtually unobtainable in Sharm, so next time I’ll maybe buy one of those duty free ones as a backup ….

Anyway, there won’t be lots of photos, as I thought I’d just try out the wide angle for the first few days ….

Other than a bit of an upset tum, the main disappointment is that they seem to be allowing fishing on Shark Reef (as well as snorkellers, though that’s another matter). This is supposed to be a marine reserve. We pay an extra 5 euros/day to dive it. We aren’t allowed to carry knives, because there should be no fishing lines to entangle us.

And there are less fish than last year. Much less barracuda ( I only was them on the last couple of dives). Maybe a quarter of the snappers that were there a couple of years ago.

There are enough fish in the Red Sea, but if you allow fishing on the marine reserves, why would the fishermen go anywhere else ? It’s just too easy – why work harder than you have to. Ras Mohammed is stunning in the summer because of these fish – the rest of the year, it’s just “above average”. In a couple of years, it could be unexceptional.

Those dolphins …

Ah yes. These are big, but (we were told) very shy. The skipper cut the engines and – as we drifted – these beauties came in to show off a bit.

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