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Red Sea

corals in the Red Sea (Sudan)

The Red Sea (Arabic: Bahr el-Ahmar or al-bahru l-'ahmar; Hebrew: Yam Suf) is a gulf or basin of the Indian Ocean between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb sound and the Gulf of Aden. In the north is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal). The sea is roughly 1900 km long and at its widest is over 300 km. The sea floor has a maximum depth of 2,500 m in the central median trench and an average depth of 500 m, but it also has extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. The sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 or 450,000 kmē. The sea is the habitat of over 1000 invertebrate species and 200 soft and hard corals, of the many vertebrate species there are over 300 types of shark. The sea occupies a part of the Great Rift Valley.

The name of the sea does not indicate a permanent red colour, but may signify the seasonal blooms of the red-coloured cyanobacteria Trichodesmium erythraeum near the water surface. Some suggest that it refers to the mineral-rich red mountains nearby.

Surface water temperatures remain relatively constant at 21-25°C and temperature and visibility remain good to around 200 m, but the sea is known for its strong winds and tricky local currents. The sea was created by the division of Africa from the Arabian penninsula, a movement which began around 30 million years ago. The sea is still widening and there are small volcanic features in the deeper parts, it is considered that the sea will become an ocean in time (as proposed in the model of Tuzo Wilson).

The sea is a popular tourist destination and is known for a number of spectacular dive sites in Egypt: like Ras Mohammed, Elphinstone, The Brothers, Rocky Island and the even better and more unknown in Sudan like Sanganeb, Abington, Angarosh, Shaab Rumi (see picture above).

Bordering countries are:

Towns and cities on the Red Sea coast include: Assab, Port Sudan, Port Safaga, Hurghada, El Suweis, Sharm el Sheikh, Eilat, Aqaba, Dahab, Jedda, Al Hudaydah.

The Red Sea was 'discovered' as a diving destination by Hans Hass in the 1950s, and by Jacques-Yves Cousteau later.