Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 5 Elphinstone, Marsa Abu Dabab & Port Ghalib

Early morning dive today. Hunting for shark in the local shark hotspot. We woke up at 5.00 o'clock to get to the base at 5.30 o'clock and to get our gear ready.
After that of to Brayka Bay to use their Zodiac as ours still has not received their permission from the police to use theirs. A rather fast drive to get there and we had a packed breakfast from yesterday evening to get rid of the hunger pangs. Arrived there and got our gear set. After that on to another big Zodiac from the local Extra Divers and of we where. A really long drive out to Elphinstone, lots of waves against us. We had a rather large school of dolphins on the way out, so we did a few turns to look at them. Once we arrived we saw four safari boats and zodiacs driving everywhere with divers. Weird bunch, divers. As we had two groups on board, Group 1, which wasn't us, got prepared to go in. I got confused and got ready, but realised soon enough that that wasn't my group, so I didn't accidentally jump in with them. Elephenstone is an only divers location. There are so many shark in that area, that snorkelling is forbidden. The sharks tend to leave divers alone (or are just curious) but snorkellers have I high chance of getting attacked from the bottom.
Dropped in to the water from the Zodiac and dropped under the waves after Salah gave the sign. Jon, Johanna, Michael, Gerd, Salah and me there today, so not to much. Elphenstone can also be rather risky due to strong currents. Underwater we where greeted by a drop off coral in to the depths of the ocean. Diving with a moderate current along the whole way with a wall to our right and darkness beneath us is a different type of diving to what we did till now here in Marsa Alam. Dropping down I noticed a painful sting in my cavities once again, have to get that fixed. Stopped at about 18 metres depth and let the current drag us along. Saw a scorpion fish and some big tuna but that was it for the dive. Nothing really special, especially no sharks. Probably scared away from all the activity going on. I though I saw a silhouette in the distance once, but blue water can be very difficult to tell. Exited and went back a bit disappointed, Elphenstone does have a reputation of having 70% shark chance. Another pair of divers on our Zodiac didn't stick to the reef, but swam out in to the open ocean and found an oceanic shark. Rather large, typical shark looking sharks that prefer the open ocean. Also on our way back we saw another large school of dolphins, seems like there are no dolphins in Dolphin House, the dolphin sanctuary in the area.
Reached Brakya Bay and de-geared before taking the mini bus back and having lunch in the Three Corners Equinox.
After lunch we where rushed by Salah to get to the neighbouring Marsa Abu Dabab reef. Good that we where rushed, as when we left the water there where tons of other divers, snorkellers and swimmers in the water. When we entered we had the beach and water for us. Underwater we dived over sea grass and spotted a total amount of eight sea turtles, a lot. Normally you see a maximum of two or three on a dive, but never eight. All where eating the sea grass. Apart from the huge amount of turtles we also saw a sepia (a type of squid), two lion fish, a crocodile fish and quite a few blue spotted sting rays. Going back to the beach we where greeted by swarms of divers and snorkellers coming the other way. Snorkellers, as the water wasn't to deep. Most of the time we where diving at about five metres. Exited back over the beach and cleaned our stuff before taking the bus back to the base and hanging it up to dry. A nice chat in the setting sun on the porch of the dive base and later back to the room to write the first part of the blog and to sort out the videos of the GoPro.
After that some more dinner and we weren't disappointed once again. Of to Port Ghalib after that, for some time in the town and the opportunity to barter. The ride there proofed interesting, as the whole bus was full of German speaking people. Once we arrived there we walked in to the town and the salesmen where all waiting like hawks on the side of their shops for some tourists to come. I don't like bartering that much, but Johanna and especially Jon seem to enjoy it a lot. Managed to not get anything in the end, as the only thing I would have got was seriously overpriced. Had a drink and after that where strolling back to the bus when who do we met? Yvonne, Johannas dive friend from last year and the person she went diving with in Lake Constant. She and her diving club are spending one week on a safari boat, going down southwards and stopping at reefs on the way to dive. We didn't have much time, so after a short chat back to the bus and hotel for some sleep. Next day three dives planned.
A map of the reefs here, we are in the area of Marsa Ghaleb. 

Diving time: 63 min. / 67 min.

Diving depth: 19,6m / 13,8m  

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