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Diving El Gouna

El Gouna is a resort about 40km from Hurgarda. It was built about 20 years ago and consists of a numbers of hotels, shops, bars and restaurants all built around a series of salt water canals. My work commitments this year meant having to wait until November for our summer holiday this year - but it was worth the wait.

The diving was with a company called Colona Divers. They have several centres in the the Red Sea and also do Safari boats.

Here are a few of the pictures. Click on some of them to get a bigger picture.

El Gouna

Moon rise over the El Gouna marina. The resort consists of a small town created around a series of man made lagoons and canals. It never seemed very busy even though most of the hotels were full. We stayed in the Three Corners Ocean View Hotel. It was a clean well appointed modern hotel - at the same time it didn't have that Wow factor that makes it stand out from the crowd. We did a few other non-diving things including a trip to Luxor to see the tombs and temples.

Watch a Quicktime movie


Kauko warm as ever in his new dry suit. He does ice diving at home in Finland but on his last trip he got so cold he said he needed a drysuit. Then again he expended so little energy on each dive no wonder he got cold. Kauko came up from every dive after about an hour with more than 80 bar left. I struggled to do the same and I was using a 15ltr tank. I was very envious of his air consumption and his slow relaxed way of diving.


I love finding Nudibranch’s whatever size, type or colour. This little pyjama Nudibranch (Chromdoris magnifaca) was smaller than most at about ¾” long.

Yellow mouth Moray Until the moment my flash fired I didn’t notice the wonderful yellow mouth this Moray was showing off.
Just arrived

Tired and thirsty - the first thing to do after getting to the hotel was to have a drink. We didn't normally need such a good excuse to have a drink - often no excuse at all.

Giant Clam

I love photographing shellfish – for one thing they don’t move as fast as other fish. However, you still need to make a very quiet approach and stop breathing if these giant clams are not going to shut up shop.

Lion Fish

A sleepy lion fish hanging upside down in a small cave waiting for dark.

Watch a Quicktime movie of some of the other things we saw.


Another Pyjama Nudibranch, this one about the size of my finger.

Feather Star A Feather Star entwined in a soft coral.
Clown fish Over the years I’ve got many shots of clown fish but never a good one. This year I planned to change that – after all how difficult can it be since you see them almost every dive and they don’t exactly go far from their anemone home. Well it proved far more difficult than I could ever have imagined. This was one of the best I managed out of over 100 shots of the little buggers. I just couldn’t get them to smile at the right time. Oh well – that’s my excuse for coming back next year to try again
Coco Coco didn't do much diving again this year and when she did she had a dreadful time. She managed to pick the worst day of the trip to do her first dive. We had a two hour roller coaster boat ride to the site. On the way back the weather got worse still and then she got hurt when she slipped on the wet deck. Not a good days diving for anyone.
Sea Snake

This is not a great picture but I was very surprised to see a sea snake. When back on the surface I found out how dangerous they are, so maybe it’s good I didn’t try for a nice Macro shot!


Scorpion Fish

Giant Clam

Here are a couple of shots I was pleased with:

A Scorpion Fish and a Giant Clam feeding.

Giannus D Giannus D

Giannus D
This Greek freighter hit the reef in April 1983. We were told not to penetrate the wreck – being good boys we didn’t, only to find all the good photos were shot by everyone that did.



Carnatic is a British P & O steamer which struck the reef in 1869. The captain hoped the boat could be refloated and passengers remained on board all night and much of the next day. The pumps coped with the leak until finally the water reached the boilers. Without the pumps she was doomed. Her back was broken and suddenly the stern broke away drowning 6 passengers and 26 crew. The bow then fell sideways and slipped of f the reef .

It is now completely covered in life while still retaining enough shape to work out what you are looking at.

Tony on Carnatic Flatworm on Carnatic

Tony is the complete opposite of Kauko. He dives in a T-shirt and shorts rather than a wet suit. He says he uses his own natural “bio-prene”. The up side of this is he can be ready to dive in about 30 seconds of getting kitted up. The down side was Tony was shivering with cold about five seconds after coming out of the water if it was windy.

Here he is filming a flatworm on the Carnatic.

Deco Stop

El Minya – the Harbour wreck
This Egyptian minesweeper was sunk by the Israelis’ in 1969. It was still at anchor when it was hit and sunk. It’s a nice wreck but has surprisingly little life for a wreck from the sixties. It still has a very military look and feel and its guns are still clearly visible. As we began to ascend Tony started clocking up a lot more deco than me. We swam a very similar profile, so I couldn’t believe it when he signalled 14 minutes to me when mine was only 4 minutes. I don’t often deco dive so it was a boring end to a nice dive as we sat on the line ‘til Tony was ready to come up.

Wreck Susana Big Fish

This is and old drive boat that caught fire on the jetty of the nearby hotel. Rather than dealing with the fire the hotel staff cut the lines and pushed it out to sea. An oxygen tank on board exploded, ripping a hole in the hull as if it were hit by a torpedo, causing it to sink where she is today. As we descended the line to the wreck it looked a very boring sight but it turned out to be a fabulous little wreck, absolutely packed with life. It was full of glass fish, lion fish, eels and this rather handsome fellow posed on the bow for the whole dive



Safaga Mini Safari


Just fish...

Feather Star at night

Feather stars are beautiful in the daytime when you can see them all curled up, but at night they can be seen in all their glory when they come out to feed.

The famous plate Salem Express Tony on Salem Fish on Salem

Salem Express
This was a strangely haunting dive. The crew of the boat did this trip almost every week but didn’t seem quite as happy that morning. As I dived it I saw the many large glass windows still intact. Memories came flooding back of working on the Herald of Free Enterprise story. I saw many shots that were never broadcast, of bodies on the other side of the windows. Only then did I understand why the crew were quite so sensitive. It’s a dive I feel privileged to have done and I will remember it for a very long time.

The Loss of the Salem Express

The Safaga based Salem Express provided a ferry service between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. She was a 4700 tonne; French built; roll-on roll-off ferry built in 1976 and was renamed the Salem Express in 1988. The Captain was well known for taking a short cut between the mainland and Hyndman Reefs, cutting two hours off the journey. On 16th December 1991, the Salem Express was loaded with vehicles and several hundred passengers - mainly pilgrims returning from Mecca. That night the weather had deteriorated with gale force winds and large waves.

The Salem Express hit the most southerly Reef, holing her on the starboard side. At the same time the collision caused visor protecting the car deck to move, letting in water. Huge quantities of water rushed into the ship, from both openings, causing a list to starboard and 20 minutes later she sank. It sank so quickly that there was no time to launch the lifeboats. Those people who jumped into the water in the dark had to swim for their lives. 180 people survived with most of them reaching shore unaided. Officially, the ship was carrying 578 passengers and 72 crew but unofficially it may have had twice that number on board. The official death toll was 470 but many locals say that 900 perished.

Over the coming weeks many bodies were recovered from ship but finally the Egyptian Navy sealed the wreck leaving the remaining bodies inside. This is why most dive guides forbid divers from penetrating the wreck and just allow access to the bridge and the dining room areas.

Watch the QuickTime movie

Colona V crew The crew of the Colona V. It's not the worlds biggest safari boat but with only three divers on board (Kauko was too sick to come and we left him in hospital!) we had a cabin each and plenty of space. However it would have been a bit to cosy with the full compliment of 8 divers. I liked not having to endlessly change tanks - just put your BCD and tank next to the compressor and that was it - and every fill was 230 Bar - something you don't often see on a dive boat.
Watch the entire holiday film (20min 43Mb) by clicking here.

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