Big Brother Island in the Red Sea. Usually, this place is fully parked with safari boats. This year, we had the place to ourselves on several dives.
Where my diving started and I keep comming back
“I am on my second safari of two back-to-back trips in the Red Sea. It is diving day number 11 and I am starting to get a bit worn from many days of diving. On the other hand, I am right awake, because we are arriving at a dive site, I have been longing to revisit.
I did my first dive here on Oktober 29th 2007 and now 13 years later, I am back to see how SS Thistlegorm is doing”.
The bow of the Thistlegorm is standing straight on the bottom of the Red Sea.
The stern is laying tilted, since the explotion caused my the German Bomber happened just behind it – directly onto the cargo room holding its ammunition.
It you follow the chain, from the bow, you will reach the massive anchor that was set on October 6th 1941.
The Thistlegorm is one of the World’s most famous wrecks for recreational diving. Its history is worth a study in itself and for diving it really is perfect. Maximum depth is 30 meters, water is warm, the wreck can be dived both outside and penetrated and there are so many spectacular views to be encountered. And then the wreck has the most wonderful inhabitants. On that first dive, I did here in 2007, I saw a group of dolphins just as I came out after penetrating one of the cargo rooms. You will never forget something like that. That is rare though, it is more common to meet batfish, a turtle, moray eel, lionfish and a napoleon fish. We did 4 dives on the Thistlegorm this time around, including a night dive, and it was amazing for me to be united with a very familiar dive site.
I have dived the Thistlegorm many times as an instructor, tought courses and guided dives. But this was the first time with my DSLR set-up. It was great to be able to portray, what I love about this wreck.
I was attending a photography workshop on the trip and us students were blessed to have Nele Engler with us for modelling.
Travelling in 2020
Now, how is it, that I managed to travel to Egypt in 2020? Not to mention my trips to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. I guess, it is because I am very persistent. Like many others, I had several holidays cancelled during 2020, but when one door closes, another one opens – even in the current situation, we find ourselves in. So, the first thing I did, was to decide not to wait for everything to be back to business as usual, but to look for other ways to travel.
As a negative test became the ticket to enter other countries, I started to reduce my social activities a lot – a lot more than my friends, who didn’t hope for any travelling in the near future. It was not so much of the fear for getting Corona, but the fear of getting tested positive. Solitude has become my lifestyle now, but I have also had to change my idea of how I am ensured. Earlier, I had travel insurance, that would cover loss in case flights got cancelled or illness on dpearture date. That has changed. When a country is considered a risk zone, I myself am liable. And that is of course a risk, that you have to be willing to take. The third thing, that is a bit difference, is the logistics.
One of many mails from Swiss Air. The service was impeccable, but still I got worried. Not only did my flight schedule change a lot, I was also de-routed. 4 changes in total, which resultet in 2 nights in Zürich Airport and departure 1,5 days earlier than initially planned for.
There are fewer flights and the schedule change a lot. So even though I am focusing on the doors still open, admittedly, the prerequisites for travelling have changed a lot – but if I look back a few decades, this was how travelling used to be. And it has one major advantage: This year, I have had the destinations to myself. I know, that the impact on the industry is massive and that we as tourist must be prepared to pay a different price for travelling if this keeps up, but when I look in Nature and see the emptiness, it calms my heart. And then I can only be extremely grateful, that I am in a position to adapt to all these changes. And because I have this chance, I also decide to take advantage of it. We only know what we have, and not what comes.
How is the Red Sea doing?
Little Brother Island – alone – with calm seas and an amazing sunset. The shallow reef becomes visible because of the lights from our boat.
The Red Sea always amazes me for its visibility. Nowhere else in the World, have I experienced such a consistent and amazing visibility. That combined with many hours of sun from above and the shallow reefs, makes it a perfect nest for coral growth. And the corals are amazing – those of them still thriving, because there is no doubt, that the activity form many divers has made an impact.
Lovely and healthy soft coral at Little Brother Island
Bleached hard coral. Photo taken with a spin technique and long exposure.
I also witnessed coral bleach. It was not in large areas, but more sporadically, so I looked a bit into what causes coral bleach. I was under the impression, that such was only due to warm waters, but I found out, that like all other things related to the ecosystems in Nature, it is much more complex.
Bleaching is a reaction to stress, where changes in temperature can be one trigger. Other triggers can be oxygen starvation, because of excessive amounts of zooplankton, which again happens when there are not enough fish to eat those. Increased sedimentation, for instance from water outlets. Changes in salinity, exposure to chemicals or oils. So just like us they are very fragile to rapid changes.
RAPID CHANGES could also have been the headline of this blog. Try to think about how you were affected by the rapid changes of the year that has just passed… It has been rough and almost completely consuming of everything, we as humans considered to be our life. Then imagine what Nature has had to face as human society has progressed. We, as a whole, are under a lot of stress. And we are causing it ourselves. So, I invite you, to lean back. Look at the open doors and go through the ones, that get you closer to Nature.
Trip in Bullets
- 14 days of self isolation
- Testing on day 11
- Copenhagen – Frankfurt (12 hours layover)
- Frankfurt – Zürich (11 hours layover)
- Zürich – Marsa Alam
- 7 days – 6 nights Sarafi with Ocean Window
- Main dive sites: Brothers and Daedalus
- Bustransfer Marsa Alam – Hurgada
- 10 days – 9 nights Safari with Hamata Magroves
- Main dive sites: Brothers – Hurgada – SS Thistlegorm and Abu Nuhas
- 9 days underwaterphotography workshop with Tobias Friedrich
- Hurghada – Zürich (13 hours layover)
- Zürich – Copenhagen
- 14 days of self isolation
- Dives in total: 39 including my dive number 1500!
Me and my lovely dive buddy Astrid getting ready for my dive number 1500. Later on the safari, Astrid did her dive number 2500 – WOW!
Silly Nemo hat meets Nemo city on Daedalus Reef. The clown fish weren’t really impressed.