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Scuba Diving at St John's, Marsa Alam, the Red Sea
Dive Site: Gota Kibeer
Location: St John's Reef
Depth: 0 - 30 metres + (100 feet)
Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
Gota Kibeer directly translated from Arabic, means "Big Piece" and as the name suggests this is a large oval (almost slightly triangular) shaped reef. Its size means you can make several dives here on different parts of the reef. Weather and current dependant (the current normally runs north to south) the best option is to get dropped by zodiac or RIB as far to the north as possible. The north tip has two plateaus at 15m and 35m respectively and certainly provides a good chance to see white-tip sharks and even grey reef sharks, which cruise the reef perimeters.
Heading in a southerly direction along the steep east wall make sure you regularly check the blue for passing pelagics. Eagle rays sometimes cruise the reef and on a dive here on New Years Eve 2006 a large eagle ray swam vertically between our group of divers and twice disappeared onto the top of the reef before shooting back down the reef wall at incredible speed. Quite how it breached the reef I'm not sure as at the time it was low tide and much of the reef top was not underwater! The top 15m of reef is not quite as prolific in terms of soft coral as some of the other southern sites at St. Johns (such as Habili Jaffar or Gota Shiwayya). Never the less there are large gorgonian fans in 30m and lots of red tree corals hang from the wall, wafting in the current. Turtles favour the top 10m of the reef and towards the southeast corner there are some large overhangs and deep fissures which penetrate into the reef, exiting far behind the reef perimeter itself. The swell in and out of these cracks can be strong so it in inadvisable to enter. There are several large groups of anemones clustered near these openings in around 8 to 10m which make for some excellent photographs.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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