Red Sea & Indian Ocean
BROTHERS AND ELPHINSTONE, EGYPT
Sharks, sharks and soft coral splendour
Season: Year round diving
Visibility: 10-35 metres
Water Temperature: 20-31°C
Elphinstone Reef, approximately 450 meters long and with steep drop offs on either side could easily make a 40-plus meter dive. You will be torn between admiring the soft coral covered wall with its greens, purples and reds and keeping an eye on the blue for Oceanic White-tip Sharks or deeper still, Scalloped Hammerheads. This reef is not without some of the more common schooling fish such as coral groupers, butterflyfish and yellow snappers. Currents tend to be ever-present at Elphinstone, but most prevalent at the northern and southern tips, especially the northern tip so here is where you can expect more shark action! Occasionally, the sometimes-resident Thresher Shark might pop up briefly from the depths to see what all the fuss is about. Have your cameras ready for these as well as the schools of tunas and the solitary barracudas that patrol silently out in the blue. When you are coming up for your safety stop, keep your eyes open - you may also be fortunate enough to spot a Whale Shark in the shallows on the seaward side of the reef.
Big Brother and Little Brother (more commonly referred to simply as ‘Brothers’) are two small islands that just break the surface of the water almost mid-way between the shores of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This wonderful mid-sea location means that these are the only areas of coral for miles around and thus they provide a spectacular display of underwater life including schools of jacks, snappers and numerous sharks. Even Tiger Sharks cruise this area from time to time. Colourful Little Brother is small enough to circumnavigate and the coral shelf which has developed around the island supports a vast array of reef-dwellers. A forest of huge gorgonians reaches out to seaward and soft corals in many colours are highly abundant. The menacing shapes of Oceanic White-tip Sharks, accompanied by their characteristic small groups of Pilot Fish, can regularly be seen here. Watch out for that tell-tale rounded dorsal fin!
This region is not without two classic wreck dives too. The Numidia hit Big Brother in 1901 and has since been claimed well and truly by the sea. Now home to plenty of schooling fish such as snappers, jacks and barracudas, the Numida offers little in the way of structure or artefacts to marvel at. The real focus is on the wealth of marine life that now makes its home here. The wreck is accessible from 10 meters for those in search of a shallower dive, and all the way down to 40 meters for those wishing to seek out the grey reef sharks that lurk in the ‘silent zone.’
The western tip of Big Brother is where the Aida went down in 1957. With her prow at 30 metres and her stern at 70 metres, this wreck is heavily coral-laden and lies exposed to much current. In the right conditions the interior of the wreck can be explored. Like many deep wrecks around the world, a school of glass fish make their home in the engine room.