Heart made by dive guides from broken coral pieces

Dive sites (Red Sea): Dolphin House (Sha’ab El Erg)

Twinset divers approach the heart
Twinset divers approach the heart

Dolphin House is part of a larger, horse shoe shaped reef called Sha’ab El Erg. We did our check dive (the first dive of our liveaboard trip in October 2013) at a site on this reef called Poseidon’s Garden. Because of the shape of Sha’ab El Erg, it is possible to find a sheltered area almost regardless of the conditions. We retreated here towards the end of our trip, on quite a windy day. I should have listened more closely to the briefing, and paid more attention to the name of the reef. A pod of dolphins is reliably sighted here, and indeed, my companions (and everyone else on our liveaboard) did see them, and Tony took this National Geographic quality photo as they swam past:

Dolphins at Dolphin House, Sha'ab El Erg
Dolphins at Dolphin House, Sha’ab El Erg

I surfaced from the dive completely ignorant of any cetacean presence, and, upon going through my photographs afterwards and matching timestamps, I figured out that while the dolphins were swimming by, I was considering a tiny goby, well camouflaged on the sand. Veronica kindly mounted my cylinder, shook me bodily, and gestured enthusiastically, but I interpreted her signals to mean that I had a small leak on my first stage, and thought nothing more of it. Ah well.

Mucous cocoons from parrotfish
Mucous cocoons from parrotfish

In addition to gobys and dolphins, we saw several of the mucous cocoons pictured above. Some species of parrotfish, and other reef fish, extrude mucous from their mouths at night, forming a protective layer around them while they sleep. These cocoons may hide the scent of the fish from predators, or provide an early warning system when the cocoon is breached or disturbed. In the morning the fish simply breaks out of the cocoon and swims away.

The dive site comprised two pieces of reef separated by a wide sand patch with a coral garden on it. We found the current on the sand and the furthest piece of reef to be quite strong, so we stayed mostly quite close to the boat, exploring the section of reef to which we had tied up. Even without the dolphins, this was a lovely dive. Kate spent most of it in a meditative pose…

Dive date: 24 October 2013

Air temperature: 26 degrees

Water temperature:  26 degrees

Maximum depth: 12.3 metres

Visibility: 30 metres

Dive duration:  60 minutes

Tony exploring
Tony exploring

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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