It is only in the past couple of years that the Southern Red Sea has become a popular dive destination. Mark Webster takes a look at some of the wrecks in the south that are set to become regular dive haunts of the future
This shipwreck has already become known as the ‘Giannis D of the south’, as it is of similar dimensions and shape – it is, however, both older and more intact. The elders of the local Abedi fishermen tell the story of how two ships collided offshore in a storm in the early 1950s. This ship had her bow sliced clean off and was driven into the fringing reef on the north side of Ras Banas at Sataya. Here she slid down the reef on her starboard side to rest on a silty bottom at 25m. There is no evidence of a name on the stern. With the exception of the missing bow section it is remarkably intact and perhaps 80–100m in length, although there is little sign of a cargo, which indicates that she was either sailing in ballast or perhaps salvaged before she slid down the reef. The fringing reef here protects a shallow sandy lagoon, which obviously spills sand and silt over the reef and wreck during rough weather. As a result the visibility here is never remarkable and the coral growth on the wreck is limited to the tougher, hard species. The site is very exposed to the prevailing northeasterly wind and can only be dived in calm conditions. As far as I know, the wreck was first dived by the MV Coral Queen in 1998.
Unnamed yacht – Abu Galawa Small, Fury Shoal
This 15m yacht sank five years ago in rough weather on the southwestern corner of the patch reef system known as Abu Galawa Small on the northwestern corner of the Fury Shoal reef system. It seems that the name of the yacht has already been forgotten, and there is no evidence of a name on the hull. The hull itself is still intact but the main mast is missing (possibly recovered at the time of sinking). The wreck lies on its starboard side at the base of the reef in 12–15m of water. Despite having sunk only five years ago it is already well covered by both hard and soft corals and a variety of reef fish have moved in, including a shoal of glass fish and attendant black grouper in the main saloon. The reef system around the wreck is lush and well protected from the prevailing northeast wind.
Wreck of MV Tienstin – Abu Galawa Big, Fury Shoal
Two or three miles southeast of the unnamed yacht wreck is the wreck of the tug MV Tienstin, which sank after running aground on the reef of Abu Galawa Big in 1955. She lies up with her bows hard up in the reef shallows facing north, with her stern in 18–20m. The entire wreck is festooned with hard and soft corals and has become an extension of the reef system with all common species found on the hull, decks and accommodation. This wreck is large enough to keep a reef watcher and wreck enthusiast busy for a whole dive and is exceptionally photogenic.
• Mark Webster dived the wrecks from the Coral Queen, for details contact Oonasdivers on 01323 648924.