Diving trip UV photo in the Red Sea

One might ask why one can bring themselves to leave the high summer heat in Sweden for an even hotter Egypt, in the middle of the best summer vacation. But there is a good reason: If you want to have the chance to experience Red Sea big game and large schools of fish, this is a good period. We would be at Fotosafari, the second in the series that I, Ingvar Eliasson, had the privilege of organizing together with Scuba Travel. On July 5th, early in the morning, I counted the gang on Arlanda. Together we were 24 divers who were now going on a UV photo diving trip in the Red Sea. That is, a liveaboard with a layout and a route adapted for photographers.

In Hurghada we were greeted by the broad smile of Ashraf, Scuba Travel's local handyman. He helped us quickly and smoothly with visas and checks so that we were on the bus in no time. While we munched on our fare, we drove the rugged coastal road down to Port Ghalib where the M/Y Grand Sea Serpent was waiting in the harbor, with its 11-strong crew and our two dive guides, Anna and Jos. The first evening we could calmly get ready, eat a good supper and enjoy the gentle evening heat in the sunset!

We start diving

The first day of diving was easy, coastal diving on a shallow reef - Marsa Mubarak - a little way out from Port Ghalib. Exciting was that we knew that this was an area where you could be lucky enough to see the Red Sea manatee, the dugong. After a check dive on the reef, dive two therefore became a search dive over the sandy bottom at a depth of 6-12 meters on which the dugong grazes seaweed. The dugong is the only strictly marine mammal that is a herbivore. They can get really big and weigh up to 450 kg, but are extremely docile and peaceful. One wanted to both see and photograph one, but even though the search dive yielded many other exciting experiences and motifs, e.g. gigantic specimens of loggerhead turtles and loggerheads, there was no dugong.

Dugong

When we had started to get things ready after the dive, the alarm went off - a dugong swam past, right next to the boat! Quickly put on a mask, snorkel and fins, bring the camera and jump in the rubber boat! Quite a few of us tried to jump in, in different rounds and many managed to swim after the dugong for a bit and even get some pictures or a film clip! I myself missed several times, and was about to give up, but when I got pretty close I decided to swim for all the fabric held, and not give up until I caught up. And it paid off! The dugong headed toward the reef, entered shallow water, and turned straight toward me.

I thought now I have 10 seconds to get a couple of good shots. But then the dugong stopped, and swam up to me. At the same time, my buddy Jonna and one of the boat drivers caught up with one of the RIBs. We had a nice time near the dugong, an unforgettable experience! It didn't seem stressed at all, rather a little unsociable.

The third dive was the only night dive of the trip. Always as much fun with macro photography at night, the reef is filled with completely new inhabitants and many day-active fish lie still and allow themselves to be photographed at night. Funniest was a group of troll lobsters populating a fire coral.

Brothers Islands

During the night, the boat then steered towards two solitary reefs far out towards the border with Saudi Arabia, Little Brother and Big Brother. Magnificent reefs with incredible wall dives and exciting big game out in the blue. Hammerhead sharks, gray reef sharks, manta rays and whale sharks were targeted here! in addition to this, it was a fantastic reef dive with rich opportunities to practice everything from macro to wide-angle compositions. The cameras were hot! A dive trip with UV photo in the Red Sea should always include these dives.

After two days at Brothers', the journey continued down to Daedalus reef, also in the middle of the sea. Here we stayed for a full two days and were able to complete six fantastic dives, really taking advantage of the opportunity to return to a subject or location several times, to get the images you were after. An important part of the arrangement was also that we had a mini-workshop every evening. There we combined technology briefings with jointly looking through a selection of each other's images and commenting on them. We had a good projector and screen on board, which made the slide shows an important feature of the trip, which was much appreciated!

Elphinstone

The last stop on the tour was Elphinstone, a coastal reef, but still one of the more powerful. Here there is great depth all around and superb animal life! There was a lot of mating and nest-building activity going on and you could witness how large pusher fish prepared pits where the offspring would have a chance to develop under safe supervision. Large shoals of fish became a special experience, and a challenge for the photographers. To say the least, you get dizzy from being weightless in a rotating school of fish and at the same time trying to look through the viewfinder on the camera. A real challenge for the mind of balance!

After the last dive, we steered with full memory cards back towards Port Ghalib. We had had plenty of the good food on board throughout the week. The last evening on board was extra festive, with a hearty buffet, turkey that was sliced ​​by the chef himself, and a great atmosphere! In the morning there was a check-off of the crew and dive guides! Hugs and email addresses were exchanged and group photos were arranged, as a final manifestation of an amazing week! One more night remained before returning home. We spent it at Hotel Safir. There you could rinse things off a little extra, dry stuff and repack for the flight home. A short trip to the marina and the tourist strip in Hurghada could also be done if you wanted, it was a sleepover on the last day!

The diving gang

Here's the gang that did it! All photos that illustrate the article were taken by the participants during the trip in question. Photographer is indicated in each picture. Thank you for letting us use your beautiful pictures!

The diving trip with UV photo in the Red Sea was given the somewhat pretentious name "Simply the Best". After all the fantastic dives and encounters with most of the coral reef's beautiful jewels and the giants that populate the deep blue, I can happily state that it was my absolute best Red Sea trip ever, and I still managed a few... As a group, we were able to check off dugongs, dolphins, loggerhead turtles, hammerhead sharks, gray reef sharks, manta rays and whale sharks. Cool! As photographers, it was perhaps even more interesting to lie down and explore the reefs. Then to work with the subjects and return with a different lens the next dive. This without being incited by having to complete a guided tour in a certain time. That's how you want it!

Now there are many good evenings left to go through all the picture material and thus also relive the trip and enjoy it one more time! And then the next trip has to be planned, this added flavor!

*All images on this page © Ingvar Eliasson