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Scuba Diving in Marsa Alam, the Red Sea
Dive Site: Dahra Island
Location: North of Marsa Alam
Depth: 12 - 14 metres (40 - 46 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
Favoured as a night dive, Dahra is a small elongated reef located a short distance to the north west of Shiriniat Island. It provides shelter for an overnight mooring over a reasonably flat seabed at 14m under the boat and 12m at the base of the reef. Boats will moor on the south side and here is located the wreckage of an old liveaboard (I have no idea of the name, date of sinking, or circumstance of its demise - so any information would be gratefully received). Diving is normally made directly from the boat by heading north to the reef wall and then following this with your left shoulder to the reef in an easterly direction. There are also some small coral encrusted boulders away from the main reef worth investigation. The south and southeast corner has little in the way of coral growth, however don't be disappointed. Night dives here can be great. Think "slow" and "small".
There is a very good chance of Spanish dancers - I've seen two, right next to each other, on the reef and also seen them free-swimming in open water. Essentially the largest of the nudibranch family these hexabranchus sanguineus take their more common name of Spanish Dancer from the similarity to the dress (the "bata de cola" traditional Gypsy dress) worn by Spanish Flamenco dancers. When these creatures lift from the seabed and "dance" their way through the water they swirl and twist like the material of the dress. Octopus are also quite common here and again I have seen them in pairs, so take your time to investigate even the most barren of areas of this reef. Current is not normally a consideration on the south side, when night diving out and back from the dive boat. However as you approach the south east corner current does have a tendency to pick up slightly and head east away from the boats. It can be almost imperceptible at first so it is worth bearing this in mind and if you feel the current starting then simply reverse course and spend some more time higher up the reef on your return to the boat.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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