Shark Reef, Yolanda Reef & Anemone City

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Dive area  Ras Mohammed
Travel time  90 minutes
Difficulty 

Current 

Boat dive
* Difficulty : 3 * Current : 2 to 3 * An absolutely exceptional concentration of fauna in the summer. * An extremely varied marine environment. * Vast area for diving. * A variety of dives. * The site is usually overcrowded. Try to arrive early in the morning. * Access and times for diving are regulated by the Ras Mohammed Park authorities. * Be careful of the currents, which can be violent at times. Shark Reef is the most famous and popular dive site in the Red Sea for the variety of ist marine environment and above all for the extraordinary abundance of ist reef and pelagic fauna. However, to enjoy this site in all ist splendour you should go there in the summer months (especially July). Another point to bear in mind is that the incredible spectacle of schools of hundreds of barracuda, Jackfish and Batfish that appear before your eyes can be enjoyed only by those with enough technical know-how to face the currents, which at times are extremely strong. There are many dives you can take there - all of which should be drift dived - and they can be varied at will, depending on various factors (weather conditions, speed and direction of the current, technical level of the divers, etc.). However, the most classic and complete dive will allow you to visit not only Shark Reef but the other two sites, Anemone City and Yolanda Reef, in only one dive. The dive begins northeast of Shark Reef on a line with a plateau commonly known as Anemone City, which lies at 12-20 meters' depth and juts out like a large balcony over the blue. A large population of sea anemones (Heteractis magnifica and Entacmaea quadricolor), among whose stinging tentacles live multicoloured Red Sea anemonefish (Amphiprion bicinctus) have colonized this plateau in which the light-coloured sand is interrupted by coral formations. On this plateau, at a depth of 14 meters, you will note a sort of large metal post placed in an upright position in the 1970s, it seems, to commemorate a diver who died there. After exploring Anemone City you must swim in the blue for a few minutes at a depth of 20 meters and at a course of 150°, which will lead you directly to Shark Reef, clearly recognizable by the unmistakeable profile of some gorgonians. Here there is a wall that descends vertically to an abyss more than 700 meters deep; keeping this wall to your right, you skirt round a coral outcrop. If you observe the blue you will easily spot schools of Batfish (Platax sp.), barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) that sometimes swim in a circle formation, walls of Jackfish (Caranx sp., Carangoides sp.), Snappers (lutjanus monostigma and Lutjanus bohar) and Emperors (Lethrinus nebulosus, Monotaxis grandoculis, etc.). After going a few dozen meters, you will reach the sandy and shallow saddle that connects Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef, whose profile you will see right afterwards. Now follow the southern wall of this coral outcrop and, after passing by the southern corner, you will see - at 25-10 meters' depth - the remains of the Yolanda, a Cypriot merchant ship that sank here on the night of 1-2 April 1980 while on ist way to Aqaba: containers, bathtubs, sanitary fixtures, wallpaper, cases of whisky and even a BMW 320 automobile that belonged to the ship captain. The wreck is always surrounded by large Malabar groupers (Epinephelus malabaricus), Napoleon fish (Cheilinus undulatus), Snappers (Lutjanus monostigma) and Fusiliers (Caesio sp.). The ship - which stood half above the surface in an unstable vertical position since the bow was stuck in the bottom - was pushed by the waves to a depth of 50 meters at the beginning of 1987 and, on 15 March of the same year, sank into the blue during a violent storm. The dive usually ends after you have finished exploring this area, but if you still have some air left you can continue to circumnavigate Yolanda Reef to investigate the lagoon in the back and the saddle between the two coral outcrops, inhabited by Blue spotted stingrays (Taeniura lymma), Scorpion fish (Scorpaenopsis sp.), Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa), Napoleon fish (Cheilinus undulatus) and Crocodile fish (Cociella crocodila). As an alternative you can visit a nearby Satellite Reef or explore the area south of Yolanda, where you can see some Grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), particularly in December and January. Yolanda * Type of ship: merchant * Construction date: 1964 * Length: 74.8 m * Width: 11.7 m * Tonnage: 1,907 t * Date of shipwreck: 1-2 April 1980 * Date ship sank to the bottom: 15 March 1987

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