Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Some final photos from Sinai

ANNOUNCEMENT: If you haven't already seen, the 2013 Wild Ocean Photography calendars are now available for pre-ordering, but you'll need to get in quick as I will be ordering them from the printers over the weekend (24th Nov). For more information check out the link here: http://www.wildoceanphotography.com/2013-calendars

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I have no idea where all the time has gone, but the last two weeks have flown by! We worked hard while we were out in Egypt, snorkeling or diving twice a day and often finishing up with project work or classes for the students in the evenings, but it was brilliant to get a break from the PhD and work on something completely different for a bit. Now I'm back I'm feeling like I've actually had a holiday for the first time in a long time and I've got a lot of my enthusiasm for diving back again!

Anyway, before I put the Red Sea trip to bed, I've got a few final shots to share with you from the last few days. I mentioned before that my group were studying anemonefish behaviour (looking at whether or not they exhibit selective aggression against particular fish species) and it would be rude to leave without at least one or two shots of the charismatic little beasties!

Anemonefish guarding their anemone from me and my camera 

An anemonefish hiding in a bubble anemone

Two anemonefish protecting their anemone-in-a-tyre territory patch

Spot the scorpionfish...
A goby on a massive coral

A ghost crab we found on the beach after snorkeling

Sadly not everything we saw was awesome. I genuinely thought this plastic bag was a jellyfish until I was a couple of metres away - no harm done to me, but it's worse for sea turtles which eat them (jellyfish are a big part of their diet) and clog up their digestive tracts with the plastic. 

Also, on our penultimate day of the trip, the guys at the iDive dving centre where we were staying took us out for an early morning dive at the 'Canyon' dive site which is one of Dahab's most famous (and popular) dives.

Anthias gathering around a crack in the rocks. 

Fortunately the early start meant we avoided the rush of people who visit it every day and we almost had the place to ourselves. The dive itself involves a shallow swim at about 10m or so across a relatively poor reef (the high diver traffic seems to have degraded the reef quite a lot compared to sites like Gabr el-Bint which we visited on our day off), to a 2m x 2m-ish hole leading straight down into the ground and dropping to around 25m. From there you follow a semi-enclosed canyon (there's light coming down from above, but you couldn't squeeze out that way) down to an exit point at 40m.

Entering the canyon

Descending into the canyon

Looking up to the outside world. Only the bubbles get out that way! 

It's relatively dark and a little spooky, but if you like caves it's a must-see! Unfortunately, being at 40m meant I was suffering somewhat from nitrogen narcosis (and a little bit out of my tree!) which meant most of the photos I took weren't particularly good. Also, although the camera housing is rated to 40m, apparently there isn't much of a depth buffer built in and by the time we were back at 10m there was a small but significant amount of seawater inside and the housing was all fogged up. I'm pretty sure it should be able to cope with the depth it's rated to so I'm not massively impressed with that I must admit. The good news is that the camera at least is fine, but I didn't get many shots from that dive!

Sergeant majors feeding in the surface waters

Finally after all that, it was time to go home and head back to Glasgow feeling exhausted, salty, tanned and pretty damn good! There's nothing like a good break and a bit of summer sun to give you a bit of a boost! But I'm not back for long - next Thursday I'm heading to Wellington, New Zealand to attend and present at the 13th International Deep Sea Biology Symposium which should be awesome, and then I'm spending 10 days or so travelling around the south island a bit (probably. I've not really planned anything yet) and hopefully doing some above-water wildlife photography on the way. If I can blog about it I will, but at the very least I'll get something up when I get back.