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World | Red Sea | Diving Safaga:

Safaga overview



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Butterflyfish at Sha'ab Hamdulillah, Red Sea dive site - courtesy of Rik Vercoe
Coral grouper at Sha'ab Hamdulillah, Red Sea dive site - courtesy of Rik Vercoe
Clownfish at Sha'ab Hamdulillah, Red Sea dive site - courtesy of Rik Vercoe

Scuba Diving in Safaga, the Red Sea

Reader Reviews:

Dive Site: Sha'ab Hamdulillah

Location: Safaga

Description: Reef

Depth: 3 - 20 metres (10 - 65 feet)

Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)

Rating: ***

Sha'ab Hamdulillah, sometimes spelt Hamdulla or Hamdallah, is a small group of 5 ergs (reef pieces) with several more to the south. Collectively these are the southernmost reef part of the Hyndman Reefs or Sha'ab Sheer, as it's known locally. Hamdulillah in Arabic means "Praise be to Allah" and is a very common phrase in Egypt. I can just picture how this dive site got its name; a group of divers returning from a dive here, with the ever eager Egyptian crew helping them out of the water. The divers commenting on the soft coral and the marine life they had seen and the crew raising their hands skywards and exclaiming excitedly "Hamdulillah!".

The more exposed surface conditions (the ergs offer little protection) can make boat mooring choppy and uncomfortable but the protection of Sha'ab Sheer's main elongated reef is only about 20 minutes boat ride to the north so this is well worth the short excursion. Diving here is normally made around the five closely spaced ergs, although one can easily also dive the ergs to south in one dive. The five main ergs form the letter 'X' and two of these have hollows or tunnels. In the northernmost erg (also the largest) the tunnel or swim-through is too small for divers with all but perfect buoyancy and even then it's not a good idea to attempt this due to the delicate soft coral which drapes these ergs. The western tunnel or gully is larger, but even then care should be taken not to disturb the coral growth which envelops the erg. Large gorgonian fan corals can be found on the southern and eastern ergs and the centre erg is so thickly covered with pink, purple and orange soft coral that in places it is hard to see the reef below. Red Sea bannerfish, masked, redback and painted butterflyfish abound and the sand lagoon floor is an ideal home for blue spotted rays and all manner of gobies, dragonets and other sand dwelling creatures. There can be current here on occasion but it is not often strong and likely to run in a northerly to southerly direction.

Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor

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