Endemic Species in the Red Sea.
There are several species of fish
that you find nowhere else but the Red Sea. Here are
There will be more pictures of
endemic species added... We're trying to track all the endemics down...
classic example of Red Sea Endemic fish: The masked butterflyfish. Often seen in
pairs but also here and there in schools, like on Gota Abu Ramada East.
Extremely photogenic and easily choreographed fish.
up to its name, the Picasso triggerfish resembles a picture of the famous
painter. Not easy to get to cooperate for photo shoots and quite often takes off
in exactly the wrong moment.
This nice pic to the right was
taken by Stig who was with us on Blue Fin in October 2008.
See more of hit pictures on
the page with guests
Like a display of fireworks. Red Sea Flasher Wrasse. Somewhat anonymous
despite the colourfulness. Rather shy and hard to get out for o nice shot.
I would like to have a better
photo of this guy so if you have one I can use feel free to send it over.
pretty and tiny Red Sea Pipefish. This is a pregnant male. With the artificial
light from the flash the true colours comes out but during a dive you'll
probably find it (if you can find it) dullish beige-brown.
Where you have a lot of those
you're likely to have stonefish and scorpionfish. The Red Sea Pipefish is
their favourite prey.
Red Sea anemonefish
Many people call them
clownfish but that's actually not correct. This is a Red Sea Anemonefish
which belongs to the family Damselfish. There is an Anemonefish in
Asia-Pacific called Clownfish but that's a different specie.
please stop calling it "Nemo"!
This little fellow is quite
hard to get a photo of as it's very shy and very fast. However, Stig from
Norway was even faster and managed to get this nice shot.
Despite the name this little
guy is only to be found in the Red Sea. With a maximum size of 2.5cm it
might prove tricky to find it even there...
Red Sea Top Shell
Maybe not the prettiest animal
in the sea... Often overgrown with algae and a bit grey and dull but it is
one of our own species, not to be found anywhere else in the world.
This might not be the most
photographed animal in the sea and Sarah from England who took
this photo also seemed a bit discombobulated when I asked her to take it.
SHARKS IN THE RED SEA:
diving in the red sea there are a few sharks that you might encounter. There are
of course more species of sharks present but these are the ones you are likely
(or not unlikely) to meet. Don't count on a shark encounter though. These
animals are all on
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Whitetip reef shark
Average size about
140 cm to 160 cm, maximum total length probably about 210 cm.
Often found sleeping in caves
during the day like on Shaab Kutzi in the Giftun Marine Park area.
size about 1200 cm average size between 600 and 800 cm.
time all over the Red Sea.
more about the Red Sea whale shark project
Maximum size about 350 cm, average size between 250 and 300 cm.
All year around on sandy bottoms, shelves and
plateaus, Ras Siyoul is one good example.
Note: Leopardshark Triakis semifasciata is a completely different species that lives around the west coast of north
Shortnose Blacktail Shark Carcharhinus wheeleri
Maximum size about 170 cm, average size between 130 and 150 cm.
Common. All year around especially on
southern liveaboard dive sites like Brothers, Daedalus, Rocky Island, St' Johns
Note: black band on the tailfin.
Average size between 200 cm to 250 cm, maximum total length about
Rare. All year around especially on southern
liveaboard dive sites like Brothers, Daedalus, Rocky Island, St' Johns among
Note: silver lining on the tailfin no
Average size about 150 cm and 18 kg, maximum 255 cm.
Seen occasionally around Red Sea during
Average size between 200 and 240 cm, maximum about 330 cm.
Summertime especially May-July on southern
liveaboard dive sites like Brothers, Daedalus, Rocky Island, St' Johns among
Note: nearly no marking on fin tips.
Oceanic whitetip shark
Maximum size possibly 390 cm, but most specimens are below 300 cm.
especially on Elphinstone but all over southern liveaboard dive sites like
Brothers and Daedalus.
Read more about the Red Sea Longimanus
Blacktip reef shark
Average size about 160 cm, maximum less than 200 cm.
You don't really see these guys
that often in the Red Sea but they are here.
Average size between 300 cm and 500 cm (up to 230 kg). Maximum
total length about 610 cm and 450 kg.
Wintertime on southern liveaboard dive sites
like Brothers and Daedalus.
Note: Yeah guess what...
size between 180 cm and 250 cm, maximum total length about 400 cm, reaching 570
that can show up net to reef by chance. Don't bet your head you'll see one.
spool-shaped body and small fins.
Average size between 250 cm and 300 cm, maximum total length
about 370 cm to 420 cm.
Classic schools of up to 40 individuals on
Daedalus May-July, Summertime often seen on Brothers, Elphinstone,
Rocky/Zabargad Islands and in St John's area.
Note: huge dorsal fin located well in front
of centre of the body and the large size of upper tail-lobe.
Average size between 400 cm and 500 cm, total maximum size about
Southern liveaboard dive sites.
Note: even bigger dorsal fin located well in front
of centre of the body and the large size of upper tail-lobe.
Average size about 400 cm to 650 cm. Maximum total length
probably 800 cm.
Summertime these guys seem to show up here and there. I've heard about sightings
at the most surprising dive sites.
COOL SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE RED
One of the earliest accounts of
the mermaid legend was given in The Odyssey, the story of the hero Odysseus
after the Trojan War:
“First you will come to the Sirens
who enchant all who come near them.
If any one unwarily draws in too close
and hears the singing of the Sirens,
his wife and children
will never welcome him home again"
But what inspired the mermaid legend was this animal, the
dugong. Actually, in the Red Sea
region, the dugong is still called Rousete el Bahr in Arabic which
translates into: Bride of
Dugong in Marsa Abu Dabab
Despite that it lacks a trunk and
lives in the marine environment, dugongs are distant relatives of the elephant.
They are coastal marine mammals that rarely exceed 3m length and may weight up
to 400 kg. Dugongs have flattened faces with bristles and fluked horizontal
tales like a dolphin or whale.
The well known dugong
Dennis in Marsa Abu Dabab has got some peace an quiet. HEPCA has stopped all
diving from boats in the bay. Not to worry if you're planning a liveaboard trip
you can still stop in any of many other bays in the area and chances are you
might bump in to a dugong there as well. Marsa Shouna and Marsa Mubarak to
mention a few and even if there is no dugong at the moment you're almost
guaranteed to see a couple of huge green turtle. If it's Dennis personally you'd
like to meet it's still allowed to go in from shore in Marsa Abu Dabab. his can
be arranged by contacting the dive operator on the beach; Orca Dive Club.
are reptiles whose ancestors evolved on land and returned to the sea to
live about 150 million years ago. Green turtles have an oval or
heartshaped carapace, which is part of their skeleton. They are not able
to retract back into their shell like some of their terrestrial cousins
can. The green turtle can grow up to 1.3 meter in length and weigh 150
kilograms. The green turtle is considered endangered.
their special blood chemistry, green turtles are able to store oxygen in
their blood. This enables them to stay underwater for up to two hours when
sleeping. However, when they are eating they will surface every ten to
fifteen minutes. Juvenile green turtles have not yet developed this ability and
have to sleep floating at the water’s surface. unlike the other sea
turtles adult green turtles are believed to have a completely vegetarian
diet consisting of different kind of algae and seagrasses.
Green turtle in Marsa Mubarak
seven species of sea turtles in the world, five of those have been
reported in the Red Sea but only three species actually live here; Green
Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback. The two first species breed and nest
here while the latter is suspected to come in for food or just pass by
nesting season for the Hawksbill Turtle starts in late May and reaches a
peak in early June and mainly this goes on at the beaches of the northern
islands like Shedwan, Big Giftun and Small Giftun. About 50 female turtles
have been counted on 8 different beaches in the Hurghada area.
Left: Hawksbill Turtle -
North end of Daedalus
David Grummit - Blue
Fin Nov 2008
Turtle nesting season is about one month later. No less than 14 beaches
along the southern coast around Wadi Gamal area where almost 300 female
Green Turtles have been seen nesting. On the offshore island of Zabargad
sightings of more than 2.000 nests have been reported.
sound like a lot, but keep in mind that only a tiny fraction of all eggs
laid and hatched result in a turtle reaching 25-30 years of age when they
are old enough to reproduce. Also; the female turtle always, without
exceptions, returns to lay her eggs at the same beach where she was
hatched. Imagine how different the beaches looks now compared to 25-30
years ago… Because marine turtles are late matured highly migratory
animals they are extremely sensitive to changes in environment and loss of
their feeding ground and habitat.
Turtles sometimes travel up to 3000 km to reach their breeding site. Males
and female turtles meet in the shallow waters surrounding the nesting
beaches to mate. During the breeding season only the females will come up
on land. On five or six different occasions approximately 100 round small
eggs are deposited in the sand. Female turtles do not lay eggs every year,
but only every three to five years.
Once a female is disturbed while laying eggs, she might never return. Loud
noises and bright lights can frighten the females. Green turtles seem to
have an attraction for particular nesting beaches and not just any beach
will do. The beaches have to be high enough and the sand can’t be too
compressed. Beach compacting by heavy 4WD driving, an increased number of
people using the beach and attempts to stop erosion of beaches by beach
armouring make it difficult for the females to create a nesting site.
gorgeous female (above) came up on the beach in Zabargad Hotel in Hamata
one afternoon around five o'clock June 17th (2009) and were excited to
see the newly hatched coming out (right)
After 8 - 12 weeks at night the hatchlings appear from the nest and will
try to get into the water before predators or the heat of the sun kill
them. Many falls prey for predators such as sea gulls and predatory fish.
Bright lights around the nesting beaches can also be a problem for the
young turtles because they may mistake street lights as their guide to
find the ocean.
The surviving hatchlings then drift for an some time in the open ocean
where they seek shelter in weed and debris until their shell reaches
around 20-25 cm. Then stay settle in coastal waters where they live around
reefs for 20-25 years, when they reach sexual maturity. It is thought that
green turtles return to the beach where they hatched to mate, presumably
using the earth’s magnetic field as a navigation tool.
Because of their special blood chemistry, green turtles are able to store
oxygen in their blood. This enables them to stay underwater for up to two
hours when sleeping. However, when they are eating they will surface every
ten to fifteen minutes. Juvenile green turtles do not develop this ability
and have to sleep floating at the water’s surface.
Unlike the other sea turtles adult green turtles are believed to have a
completely vegetarian diet consisting of different kind of algae and
Lets stop throwing plastic
bags in the sea. Turtles think it's jellyfish and suffocate. Lets leave
some beaches untouched for them to lay their eggs on. It's hard enough to
be a sea turtle anyway...
shovelnose ray is known by many names such as the long nosed shovelnose
ray, the long-snouted ray, shovelnose shark, guitarfish, and fiddler ray.
Whatever you want to call it this is a ray that has a body disc that is
not all that much longer than it is wide. What makes this ray stand out is
that it has a very long and pointed snout.
shovelnose ray is not really
with the olive-brown colour, sometimes with darker blotches. It is not
uncommon to see these rays with yellow or orange patches in front of the
eyes. The rays generally reach a maximum length of 120 inches though they
are just 13 centimetres at birth. The shovelnose ray gives birth to live
young, usually to two pups at a time. The pups are born in more shallow
water near the
shore or reef and they will stay in the more shallow waters until they are
mature. Most of the young will bury themselves under the sand to protect
themselves from predators.
in Marsa Shouna
shovelnose ray is generally found in inshore waters up to 60 meters in
depth. They generally habitat in the sandy ocean bottoms and can also be
found in sea grass beds and they generally like to live near coral reefs.
The rays usually lay on or even partly buried in the sand when they are
not looking for food, it is easy to miss them if you don’t see them on
the move. Like
other rays, the shovelnose rays are known to be quite shy. Some divers
have had success in getting within a few feet of the species but if they
move quickly the rays will be scared off.
diet of the shovelnose ray is mostly crustaceans, though they are known to
eat some small fish if the opportunity presents itself.
CORALS IN THE RED SEA:
Sea is home to more than 200 known species of coral but normally when you think
about corals in the Red Sea the picture of a big bright purple soft coral or a
gorgonian surrounded by a cloud of anthias. However there are a lot of
extraordinary hard coral growth that is worth a closer study. The coral gardens
around reefs like Poseidon in Hurghada or Abu Galawa in Fury Shoal are
spectacular and the caves and tunnel systems of Claudio or St. John's caves take
your breath away.
Above: Cave system in Um
Khararim a.k.a. St. John's Caves
In the beginning of 1998 there was
a huge attack by Crown of Thorn star fish that consumed almost all living coral
tissue on some of the reefs in Hurghada area such as Um Gammar, Shaab Ruhr Um
Gammar and Carless reef. It's cool to dive those places now since I've dived
here since 1999, and see the recovery of the reefs. It's incredible to see a
"new generation" of hard coral. Of course the soft coral is quick to recuperate
but now there are a healthy re-growth also of hard coral.
Right: Soft and hard coral on
the east side of Little Brother
have any further questions regarding the corals in the Red Sea the man to ask is
Mr Mohammed Habib who holds a degree (like a black belt for academic people) in
marine biology and serves as a consultant to several marine life conservation
programs including Egypt's Red Sea Marine Protectorate.
Left: Lettuce coral at Ungousch
Photo: Theo - M/Y Rosetta June