Thursday, January 17, 2008

Northern Red Sea

Northern Red Sea

Northern Red SeaNorthern Red Sea Coral Image courtsey:

Two continents and a sea

Red Sea is a large natural channel with a length of 1900 km, breadth between 100 to 300 km and a depth about 500 meters! Literally speaking when one continent got split in to two a large crater was formed; sea water gushed in to fill it thereby forming a water-body; that we call the Red Sea. It looks red during the blooming of a particular type of organisms known as Cyno-bacteria (Trichodesmium Erythreum) or simply the red algae.

The Northern Red Sea Region has on its Northern shores Egypt, Israel Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Sudan and Eritrea in its western side; it is more famous for some of the most beautiful coral formations in the world and its exclusive fish varieties.

Wait a minute!

Northern Red SeaDust storm over the Northern Red Sea

Behind the formation of the sea there are significant geological events initiated in the Eocene Era -in which the continental plate that bears Asia drifting away from that bearing Africa- this process acquired momentum in the Oligocene Era and is continuing. If the geologists are right; this narrow band of sea stretching from Suez to Djibouti may become a full-fledged ocean, but wait a minute; it may take some time; even our grand, grand children may not be fortunate enough to see the Red Sea as big ocean!

The gate of tears!

Northern Red SeaNorthern Red Sea Map courtsey:

As we can see it in a map the Red Sea is a comparatively narrow band of sea stretching from Ban el Mandeb (the narrow strait that separates Yemen of Arabian Peninsula with Djibouti of Africa) in the south to Suez in the north. It is notorious for its unpredictable and sudden desert storms. There are submerged islands and corals to trap a pilot who is either ignorant of the geography or just negligent, its bottom is scattered with many ships that have sunk as a reminder to the dangers that lurk.

Separations are painful this separation between two large continents must by gigantically painful! Hence aptly named Bab el Mandeb meaning gate of tears! As per the Arab legends the separation of the two continents (due to disruptions in the position of tectonic plates beneath) has caused earth-quakes of unheard magnitude and many villages with its total population vanished and thus the name ‘the bridge of tears’.

An exquisite corridor

E M Forster the renowned writer in English and a lover of the Asian culture has described the Red Sea and its surrounding sand banks as “the exquisite corridor of tinted mount and radiant water”.

On thirsty sands

The Red Sea as we know; is lying in the world’s most arid parts of the land; the hot sun heats up the desert sand, air and its waters; the dry desert storms take away most of its water thereby leaving the sea heavily saline.

People living in the arid lands on both sides of it depend upon this water for their day today needs; large desalinating plants located on its banks do the trick. Not only potable water their need for food also is met by the fish caught from Red Sea.

These all do not make the sea poorer in anyway as it is blessed with some of the most wonderful corals and most beautiful fish varieties in the world.

Dahlak Archipelago

The Dahlak Archipelago is a collection of 2 big and more than a hundred small islets, these islands; most of them uninhabited offer good sanctuary for all sorts of birds. Port Kabir is the largest island where pearl harvesting still exists as a trade; this practice was there from the Roman times. There are regular ferry services from Massawa (the capital of Eritrea) to Dahlak.

Wealth of two oceans!

Geological events that have given birth to this sea has at times closed and at times opened it to the Mediterranean Ocean and at times to the Indian Ocean. These ‘vagaries of the geology’ has given marine organisms of both oceans to come and settle in the Red Sea there by adding to the variety of animal world in this sea.

The beauty of the north – an under water Eden

Northern Red SeaNorthern Red Sea image courtsey:

It has been estimated that there are about 1000 types of fish, 200 types of corals (so far recorded) and more than 1000 species of invertebrates found in this region. It has been rightly called as an Underwater Eden due to the beautiful corals that appears in different colors depending upon the intensity and angle of the sunlight that falls on it may look red, yellow or orange. The water here is crystal clear offering good visibility, it is tranquil and seldom cause any turbulence to spoil your photo graph, the water is warm that can keep your heart also warm, hence beware; keep an eye on watch.

Come with some food!

Northern Red Sea Red Sea coral and marine fish - Anthia goldfish

There are multicolored schools of tiny fish, sharks, rays and eels etc all to delight scuba divers, those with inadequate swimming talent can try snorkeling. The fish here are not afraid of man and can be fed with tit bits like bread-crumbs etc they come so close to peck food from human hands. In fact the tourists have spoiled them by feeding and they seek easy food from visitors!

Beware of the ‘Lions’,

The Lion Fish that lurks at the crevices close to the bottom of this region is bright red in color has poisonous dorsal fins. The Red Sea attracts divers, pleasure hunters and marine scientists all over the world. All of them get the visual feast of beautiful corals and diverse types of fish. In some places these coral forms reefs deep in to the sea to form exotic structures like caves, plateaus, lagoons and all sorts of strange structures that can intrigue the visitors.

Other trouble makers

The Lion Fish is not the only villain that are abound here there are some other animals which have to be cared the ‘Fire Corals’ Stinging Hydoids are dangerous as the touch is enough to cause extreme pain, There are certain fish that can be troublesome if eaten and there are some creatures to which confrontation is better avoided.


There are many sites here for the entertainment of the visiting tourists ‘dive sites’ are prominent among them, Ras Mohammed (famous for its exclusive varieties of fish and corals, S S Thistlegorm (a ship wreck site), Elphinstone, Brothers and Rocky Island in Egypt, Dolphin Reef of Eilat and Israel etc. Hans Hass and later Jacques Yves Costeau have made these locations famous by their exploratory works. Sham El Sheikh, Marsa Alam and Dahab of Egypt and Eilat of Israel are popular tourist resorts for stay and tour.

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