Hammerheads, grey reef sharks and whatnot

And here is what happened during another amazing week! Our last safari this season departed from Port Sudan with Andromeda last week. Right away we met up with grey reef sharks above the south plateau at Shaab Rumi and we counted about 15-20 hammerheads here and at Angarosh as well. We saw an eagle ray at Qita el Bana and we ran into ghost needlefish at Umbria.

Tour date: May 19-26, 2012
Itinerary: Sudan-North
Air temperature: 35-40 °C
Water temperature: 28-29 °C
Visibility: 20-30 m

Thankfully the group arrived in time, at around 11 o’clock at night and boarded Andromeda. The next day our check dives were at Shaab Suedi. Monday started with 15 hammerheads off the bat at Angarosh. Because the waters have already started to get warmer, the sharks have begun moving further south. Nonetheless, we were able to dive with hammerheads during our second dive as well. Our third dive was at one of Shambaia’s reefs.

We ran into an eagle ray at Qita el Bana the following day. Then we went on to Blue Belt and the Precontinent but sadly visibility was not as good as last week. The currents were barely noticeable but this did not bother a few sizeable grey reef sharks who were stationed above the south plateau. The other group noticed a larger school of hammerheads in the distance at about 50-60 metres but even from 40 metres only their shady silhouettes were visible.

Shaab Rumi bid us farewell in style the following morning – a school of 20 hammerheads spent some time with us along with mackerels as you can see from the video here. At Sanganeb a giant school of barracudas circled above us. Visibility was good enough to be able to watch from the outer coral wall the ever-changing circular shapes they were taking on. Our night dive and our 2 dives the following day were at the wreck of Umbria.

A peculiar little creature was snapped by the cameras while diving at Umbria. This little fish is called the ghost needlefish. It mainly lives in Indonesia and it is rare to see in the Red Sea. We saw only a couple of them at wreck of Umbria. They are the Harlequin ghost needlefish (Solenostomus paradoxus). The maximum length is 12cm and they can hide easily among the corals. They can often be seen hanging upside down. Can it be that Umbria proves to be exciting not only to wreck divers but to the lovers of the macro world as well?

Our colleague Daniel Selmeczi was onboard Andromeda this week again and we thank him for this week’s photographic materials.

Perfect shark statistics

Turtle escort, small caves, drift dives and surprise! – this week again perfect shark statistics! The guests took over the kitchen on the last night of the tour and invited the crew to a scrumptious dinner.

Tour date: April 28 – May 5, 2012
Itinerary: Sudan-North
Air temperature: 30-35 °C
Water temperature: 27 °C
Visibility: 20m

The group arrived onboard Andromeda relatively early, at 1:30 Sunday morning. We followed the usual route for our check dive the same morning. Our first dive was at Shaab Suedi Fasma, followed by Gota Shambaia.

Monday morning Angarosh was waiting for us, where in the big blue at 35 metres we saw the first bigger school of hammerheads. The water came to life, flashes and cameras started to work. The second dive here was almost the mirror image of the first one. Then we somersaulted out of the zodiacs at the southern side of Merlot for a nice, cinema-like dive. We difted by beautiful tiny caves being escorted by a curious turtle. The rays of sunshine shimmering through from above mesmorised us all. Our night dive was at Shambaia Reef.

On Tuesday the south winds picked up, so we turned back. Our morning dive at Quita el Banna was made perfect by the sight of another group of hammerheads, surprisingly. Then came Shaan Suedi and Blue Belt, or better known as the Toyota wreck. Under the water it becomes clear why the name. There are numerous Toyota cars and parts scattered around the sea bed. It would be no use removing the cars from the water as the Blue Belt cargo ship sank in the 1970s, so these cars would be quite useless these days on the roads. The deepest point of the wreck is at 90 metres. The beauty of the dive was just enhanced by the gorgeous soft corals.

Then came Shaab Rumi and Cousteau’s Precontinent – the dive site with the hundred faces but with quite a bit of current this time. There were things from over 40 years ago that Cousteau and his team had used, underwater scooter garage, their underwater quarters and the shark cages. Because of the strong currents, the night dive was cancelled.

On Thursday at Shaab Rumi the currents made the team sweat but thanks to numerous grey reef sharks, nobody was bothered by it above the plateau. Some of the divers in better condition and with more stamina, swam out into the blue to see about 50 hammerheads cruising by.

Friday morning was spent at Shaab Rumi with hammerheads and grey reef sharks then we were off to Sanganeb. Visibility was not the best because of the currents, so we continued on to Umbria after the first dive to dive this wonderful reef which you can see in our video shot this week.

Reporting from Sudan 5.

Last week we were off again to roam the wonderful northern reefs of the Red Sea’s Sudan region. We invite you to an exciting boating during which you will see what we saw, where we were, where we drifted… Posseidon was generous again as there was plenty to see and plenty of currents and our weekly harvest was quite diverse and rich in sharks!

Tour date: April 7 – 14, 2012
Destination: Sudan-North
Air temperature: 30-33 °C
Water temperature: 25-26 °C
Visibility: 20-30 m

The guests arrived at around 1 o’clock in the morning on Sunday and boarded Andromeda. We quietly left the harbour of Port Sudan early in the morning and headed for Shaab Suedi. The day was bright and the sun scorching which enabled us to sail all the way to Gota Shamaia following the check dive.

We did the first 2 dives on Monday at Angarosh in hair-raising currents. But we were able to catch the sight of a hammerhead and a couple of grey reef sharks too with our hair blowing in the current. We can say that pretty much the whole diving week was quite sporty like this along with some underwater flying but as you will see, all in all it was worth it. J We continued our exercises at Gota Shambia the same day.

We started our Tuesday at Angarosh in even tougher currents than the day before, not even being able to swim out towards the deeper plateau. The second dive was at Quita El Banna which was kind of like watching a movie in a current. We easily drifted motionless over the reef watching the show. The third dive was at Shaab Rumi’s Precontinent.

On Wednesday we jumped into the water over Shaab Rumi’s south plateau where the currents put us to the test once again but by the fourth day we got the hang of it J and reached the end of the plateau. And voila! Countless grey reef and hammerhead sharks awaited the sweaty team. There were some who fell behind while taking in the sight of the first sharks but most of us reached our goal and we could not get enough of the huge schools of sharks.

For the second dive at Shaab Rumi’s south plateau we trained beforehand onboard because we expected even stronger currents this time but we were able to dive with lots of sharks again. During the third dive we had it easy. We drifted weightless with the currents from Precontinent towards north. Our night dive was in a lagoon.

Our early morning dive on the fifth day was not without any difficulties but aside from the promising sight of pelagics, our underwater hair-raising speeding journey was exciting on its own. We saw plenty of hammerheads and reef sharks. For the second dive we jumped in at the southern part of Sanganeb as the wind was picking up. We drifted from the east to the west with the strong currents and our third dive was at the south plateau with some hammerheads and grey reef sharks. Night dive was at Umbria.

Exploring a bigger wreck can be a challenge for even experienced divers. Thankfully we were able to roam around the wreck of Umbria in calmer conditions for our last 2 dives. These were kind of warm-down dives after the week’s challenges.

This past week in Sudan can be really described as a training camp where we had to fight and struggle if we wanted to see anything but in the end everybody got to see what they expected to see in Sudan.

Due to the lack of video footage this week, we are sharing with you our best videos. And our next report will be 1 week later as we are having a 2-week adventure tour at the moment.

Reporting from Sudan 3.

The underwater world in Sudan this past week was full of excitement and adventure, to say the least! There were plenty to see and lots of surprises! The weather was also co-operating this week and we were able to adhere to our original itinerary. The guests arrived onboard at 4:30 Saturday morning and after getting all unpacked and settled, we were getting ready to start our trip.

Tour date: March 24-31, 2012
Itinerary: Sudan-North
Air temperature: 26-28C
Water temperature: 24C
Visibility: 20-30m

Check dive was at the usual Shaab Suedi site, thankfully in calm waters. Taking advantage of the great weather, we were off to Gota Shambaia after the dive, to get closer to the dive sites further North. The second dive was in the afternoon at Shambaia. On the way there a live dolphin show caught the attention of the divers which you can see in the video here.

The following morning we started at Angarosh where, to our delight, we met up with 10-15 hammerheads and a school of grey reef sharks right away. After the second dive, the following dive in the afternoon and the night dive was at Merlo Reef where we were able to marvel in the grey reef sharks hunting in the area.

On the third day at Angarosh we ran into hammerheads again then at Qita el Banna we met a manta as well. Our dive at Precontinent was at dusk.

Shaab Rumi’s South plateau provided the site for our next dive on the fourth day early in the morning where again about 20 hammerheads welcomed the group. During the second dive 20 grey reef sharks and of course, the hammerheads were circling around us. Night dive was at Precontinent.

On the fifth day we saw the usual hammerhead clan on the South plateau of Shaab Rumi then we did 2 dives at Sanganeb. This time instead of sharks we swam with schools of barracuda and jackfish so large that they made up for the lack of sharks. At the end of the day, the night dive was at the wreck of Umbria.

The final 2 dives on the sixth day were at Umbria which was again breathtaking!

The attached video is a testament to all the great things we saw this week! We have had a fantastic week and every dive has brought us unexpected surprises. The smile has remained on the faces of the group throughout the week.

Reporting from Sudan 2.

Sunday, 4 o’clock in the morning. The group arrived on the boat. The same morning Andromeda sailed out towards Shaab Suedi in windy and choppy conditions.

Date: March 17-24, 2012
Destination: Sudan North
Air temperatures: 28-33C
Water temperatures: 24-26C

At 11 o’clock in the morning the briefing took place and after detailed and complete instructions, we started our first dive at Shaab Suedi then the second dive in the early afternoon. The Sudan coral reefs along the shores are home to a swarming marine life, so already during the check dive we had the chance to be awed by the sight.

The second day began at Shaab Rumi. This is the cherry on the cake for divers with its irresistible underwater bustling and the ever present large fish species. If diving had its own Mecca, Shaab Rumi would be it.

The reef proved itself once again. Already on the first dive a large school of hammerheads showed up on the south plateau. And while we were swimming towards the southern part of the plateau, we met up with grey reef sharks too on the reef’s south-eastern part. We stayed by the reef for the next 3 days. Whether for luck or for the weather, we were able to meet at least half a dozen grey reef sharks every day above the plateau along with hammerheads stationed in the area.

Above the reef hundreds of barracudas entertained the group in the pristine coral world. In the mornings the humphead parrotfish showed their presence. On occasion we were able to see 20-30 of them! And at one time we could clearly hear 2 males fighting somewhere in the distance. Even the windy weather did not hinder visibility. We were able to monitor the fish in the distance of 30-40 metres.

In 1963 Shaab Rumi became home for Cousteau’s legendary underwater experiments which tried to find out whether man can stay underwater for days at a time. Divers were able to retrace the steps of these unforgettable experiments. Today only the hangar of the flying saucer, some cages and tool sheds remain on the sea bottom. Seeing them helped divers imagine the lives and memories of those who had been the first to brave the underwater world.

The buildings have long been overgrown by corals but despite this, nothing has really changed. There is still an abundant marine life here and we were able to see plenty of species that live near the reefs and in the open seas. Mackerels and snapperfish are still present in large numbers.

Sanganeb: Grey reef shark visible right at the drop-off, smaller grey reef sharks on the plateau along with hundreds of barracudas and jackfish that welcomed the divers here. The second dive, although several hours later, pretty much brought the same experience, making this a very satisfying experience. Photographers and videographers were sharing their photos and videos happily after the dives.

Umbria: Again, Andromeda was the only liveaboard in the area, so there were no worries about sharing the 60-year-old wreck with any other divers. The night dive and the 2 daily dives the next day were also a great success. We managed to cover all the nooks and crannies of the boat, starting with the Fiat cars, through the pizza ovens all the way to the bombs and wine bottles.

This was our second week. Stay tuned…

The Brother Islands

Location: middle of the Red Sea
Description: reef/steep vertical walls
Depth: 25-40m

The Brother Islands are two small islands in the middle of the Red Sea. The Big Brother can be easily identified by its lighthouse that was built by the British in 1880. A big military ship wreck, the Aida II, rests on the Northern side of the island. She sank in 1957. The western side of the island provides home to large schools of barracudas, surgeonfish, mackerels, snapper fish and of course sharks, sometimes even tiger sharks. An abundance of colourful soft corals and gorgonian fans and the rich diversity of marine life and large pelagics make the dives at Brothers Islands an unforgettable experience.

Big Brother Island - Egypt

The Small Brother has a nearly round shape, lake a rain drop, falling from the north west to south east. It’s walls, packed with soft and hard corals and gorgonias show a vibrant marine life and are famous for their shark population. The northern plateau is one of the best places in the Red Sea for diving with sharks. Silvertips and grey reef sharks frequent the area and great hammerheads sometimes rise from the deep for a quick inspection before descending into the deep blue once again.

Small Brother Island - Egypt

To dive at the Brothers, and other Egyptian marine parks, you need to have: logged at least 50 dives, have valid insurance, have a surface marker buoy and a torch.

Angarosh Reef

Location: Red Sea / Sudan / North
Description: Reef / Outside walls
Depth: 10 – 55 m

In the local language, “Angarosh” means “Mother of Sharks”. An appropriate name for this reef where grey sharks are regularly observed on the drift dives along the outside walls. The top of the reef is at 10 meters deep and the deeper flat area is at 40 – 50 meters. The site consists of two plateaus located respectively at 25 and 45 meters in depth that manta rays particularly appreciate. Rings formed by schools of barracuda are also visible from the blue. Angarosh reef suitable for intermediate divers. Start the dive away from the reef towards the blue and look for sharks. Return and swim along the reef, where you can find lots of reef fish and fantastic corals. The average visibility is 10-20 metres and access to the dive site is by boat.

Angarosh Reef

Diving Safari in French Polynesia

Only for sophisticated: a 2-week trip to French Polynesia!

Our special trip this year is to the famous but distant French Polynesia. The comprehensive itinerary will include 4 islands – Tahiti, Bora-Bora, Rangiora and Fakarava –, including Rangiora, famous for its sharks. The date for the tour is perfect as this is the season for humpback whales to stay near Tahiti.

Planned tour itinerary

October 12, 2011: Departure from Budapest at 12:50 to Los Angeles (changing flights in Paris) and from there to Tahiti. Arrival in Tahiti in the morning of the following day.

(If departing from other cities than Budapest, meeting with other guests at Los Angeles Airport for the
Tahiti flight or in Tahiti. Please note the flight rates will depend on various travel arrangements. The rates quoted here refer to travel arrangements as outlined in the offer.)

Tahiti:

October 13, 2011: Checking into the hotel, a short rest and departure for the whale watching program.
October 14, 2011: Full-day whale watching program.
October 15, 2011: Optional whale watching program then flying to Bora-Bora.
Accommodations are arranged at http://www.hoteltahitinui.com in standard double rooms with half-board services. (Single-room upgrade fee applies.)

Bora-Bora:

October 16, 2011: 2 dives around Bora-Bora.
October 17, 2011: 2 dives around Bora-Bora.
October 18, 2011: Flying to Rangiora.
Accommodations are arranged at http://www.hotelmaitai.com/ in standard double rooms with garden view with half-board services. (Single-room upgrade fee applies.)

Rangiora:

October 18-22, 2011: Daily diving (2 dives per day) around the famous Rangiora.
Accommodations are arranged at http://www.bora.hotelmaitai.com in Tapa bungalows with half-board services. (Single-room upgrade fee applies.)

Fakarva:

October 22, 2011: Flying to Fakarava.
October 23-26, 2011: Daily diving (2 dives per day).
Accommodations arranged at http://www.whitesandfakarava.com/ in Tiare bungalows with half-board services. (Single-room upgrade fee applies.)

October 27, 2011: Flying back to Tahiti then on to Los Angeles in the late evening.
October 29, 2011: Arrival in Budapest at 21:00.

Rates:

Flights: approximately HUF 440,000 / person (including airport taxes) (approximately EUR 1,692 / person)
Tour for divers: EUR 5,720 / person
Tour for non-divers: EUR 4,300 / person

The tour rates include:
- All transfers
- All flights among the islands
- 2 days of whale watching
- 4 dives at Bora-Bora
- 8 dives at Rangiora
- 8 dives at Fakarva
- Nitrox
- Diving equipment
- 16 nights half-board hotel accommodations
- All taxes

Tours will depart with minimum 10 guests.
Registration deadline: June 30, 2011 by e-mail.