Friday, December 28, 2007

Second Day of Diving

Almost all of the photographs we have from this holiday are underwater photographs. There are a few exceptions but I've just gone through well over 200 photographs and they are mostly of fish. I won't burden you with all of them, just selected highlights. I'll put most of them on the Flickr site when I have time.

The rest of the dives on this holiday were done from a boat. The second day we were out, we went to Ras Mohammed National Park. The Gulf of Aqaba meets the Gulf of Suez at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Above the water there isn't much to look at, just rock and sand. This part of the world doesn't enjoy much rain. They might get a sprinkle a couple of times a year but that's it. There are no plants, no grasses or wildlife to speak of. But as soon as one peaks under the water a discovery is made. HERE is where all the life and colour are! All the life, colour and diversity that is missing from the landscape is found below the waterline.The first dive of the day was at a dive called Ras Ghozlani. One of the very first fish I saw upon our decent was the Citron Gobie Gobiodon citrinus. This little tiny fish is one of my favourites in the Red Sea. It lives almost exclusively on table coral. Any time I've seen a table coral during my dives, I always check it to see if there are any bright yellow little one and a half inch fish with fine blueish stripes on it. It sounds sort of daft, but I felt it meant something to see one of my favourite little fish on the first day at Ras Mohammed.

One of the good things about having an underwater camera is that if one is a bit of an amateur in the field of fish identification, a photograph can help later on. I've been going through the photos and with the help of my two Red Sea guide books, I'm figuring out what it is that I have seen. I didn't know the name of this fish but I have learned that it is a Speckled Sandperch parapercis hexophthalma.

These are Striped Eel Catfish Plotosus lineatus. We found out later in our guide books that this wiggly mob of fish is actually very venemous and dangerous to handle. Good thing we don't touch things while we're diving. They didn't LOOK dangerous at the time.
Red Sea raccoon butterflyfish Chaetodon fasciatus.

Lyretail hogfish Bodianus anthioides. Through the help of the guide book that Henry and I gave each other this year for Christmas I was also able to identify the juvenile form of this Lyretail hogfish. Sadly there are no photos of the babies.

In addition to the pretty little fish that I love to look at and take pictures of, there were a few bigger fish, like these almost ever-present Blue spotted stingrays Taeniura lymma and impressive Giant Moray Gymnothorax javanicus. The second dive of the day is a very famous dive within the diving community, Shark and Yolanda Reefs. The current was really pumping on this dive so we weren't able to go wherever we wanted to, but toward the end of the dive we were diving along a coral wall that was spectacular. Ever square centimeter of that wall was packed with life. Sadly no sharks were seen. We saw no sharks at all. It really is the wrong time of year for sharks anyway. They tend to be summer visitors to this part of the world. Having said that, there were lots of other divers there. Perhaps next time we visit this part of the world, we can find somebody who will take us to a place that is more deserted and doesn't have 70 other divers in the water.
Black spotted sweetlips Plectorhinchus gaterinus. There were three of these hiding under a coral ledge. I didn't want to disturb them by getting too close.

Blackfin dartfish Ptereleotris evides. These are funky little fish. They're half black and half a beautiful powder blue. Its a shame that I couldn't get a better photo of these eye catching fish.
Regal angelfish Pygoplites diacanthus.

Blackbacked butterflyfish Chaetodon melannotus.

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