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Scuba Diving in the Red Sea
Dive Site: Siyul Kebira
Location: 27°33.330N; 33°52.650E
Depth: 36 metres max (118 feet)
Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
Near the island of Big Siyul, this is a patchy reef split by wadis that give rise to currents, resulting in a slight drift dive. The reef itself is excellent in places, with abundant hard and soft coral, glassfish, lionfish, schools of sweetlips and butterflyfish. Look out for larger fish beyond the reef.
Siyul Kebira Southeast
Siyul is the name of the Island which the reef surrounds and Kebira in Arabic roughly translates as "Large". There are two islands here both called Siyul and the second smaller island in known as Small Siyul - Siyul Saghira.
These dive sites are of the lesser dived sites in the Red Sea, visited only by safari boats and then normally on days when the weather is too rough to dive the wrecks at Abu Nuhas, located around 20 minutes boat ride to the northeast. They are never the less lovely sites.
The boats will normally moor on the south side of the island reef. Most safari boats these days have a RIB or tender and this should be used to enhance the dive. Avoid "out and back dives" as both the coral quality and viz are not as good on the south side. The tender can drop you quite far around the east side of the reef towards the north wall. It is much deeper here so make sure you locate the reef as a reference for descent before you leave the surface and then head with the reef on your right side back towards your boat mooring. The further round the reef you get dropped, the deeper the bottom slopes away. On a flat calm day it is possible to request the boat moors on the north side where the wall falls away at a more vertical angle. If being dropped for around a 50 minute dive time (time to get back to the boat with no assisting current) you will find yourself in around 30 metres of water on a reef slope which gradually tapers up to around 15 metres or slowly drops away to around 50m. It is possible to see leopard sharks resting on the sandy bottom in around 12-15m of water. Make sure you look closely - it's surprisingly easy to miss these creatures, especially when they hide amongst the hard coral. When you reach the southeast tip there is an "erg" or extra piece of reef which you will pass by. This is literally teeming with small fish life and soft coral and great for photographs. Thousands of corinthias and glassfish literally cover this erg, and small shoals of butterflyfish and Red Sea bannerfish gently swim by. If you have time it is worth spending the latter part of you dive here and then ascending up to 3 metres and following the main reef (right shoulder) back to your boat on the south side.
Siyul Kebira Southwest
The west side of the reef is very different to the east side, with a deeper drop off and more vertical wall the further round you go. There are some lovely black whip corals around the 30m mark and the sea bed flattens off around the 40m mark further round to the north.
The tender can drop you around to the northwest of the reef where you will then head with the reef on your left shoulder back to the main boat. Look out for tuna and trevellay at the start of the dive in the deeper area and if you are lucky enough to have some current here it should run north to south and make for a soft drift dive. There are table corals and gorgonian fans on the west tip and a couple of ergs which have a proliferation of glassfish.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
The southeast corner is by far the most prolific, and usually the zodiac will drop divers here whereupon descent a plateau area exists at 25m. A drop off occurs nearby, and a small coral head on this drop off is the location of a coral cave at 37m with many vase sponges in white. Coming back up along the plateau the first of 3 coral ergs is encountered, covered in glassfish and sweepers. The large black coral grouper guards them well under the large healthy acropora table coral. A large gorgonian fan coral and many soft teddy bear corals complete the picture.
From here, swimming with the main reef wall on the right, two more slightly shallower ergs are found and after this last one a place where many bannerfish and butterflyfish congregate. Usually it is possible to get back to the moored boat from here.