Sha’ab Mahmoud

The Alternatives

Three miles west of Ras Mohamed, a series of outcropping coral pinnacles extends east-west for about 1.5miles on the southern edge of Sha’ab el-Utat. As it is well sheltered, it offers the opportunity to make alternative dives when conditions in the open sea are prohibitive. The classic dive goes around the two middle pinnacles, which are in line with a fixed mooring. Due to its position this site has tidal currents that greatly influence visibility, which can be quite poor when the current come from the south, especially if accompanied by wind and waves. If, on the other hand, the sea is calm and the current is either lacking or is coming from the north, you can enjoy Alternatives swarming with fauna where you can find numerous coral genera, large groupers, Bluespotted stingray, squids, nudibranchs and even Leopard sharks.

DunRaven wreck

There is a small semi outcropping reef situated 6.9miles west of Ras Mohamed with a small beacon indicating the southern tip of Sha’ab Mahmud. The British merchant ship Dunraven sank in 1876 and she lies upside down at 15-30m. Dunraven was the subject of a memorable BBC documentary film in 1979 and has become a classic site for scuba divers. Since the cargo bales of was lost during the shipwreck when the ship caught fire, the wreck looks like a large, practically empty cave. You can access through the three main openings at the stern, center and the bow. The dive begins from the stern, the deepest point of the wreck. After going a few dozen meters, you can penetrate the hull – populated by large groupers, lionfish, glassfish and multicoloured Alcyonarians, It is best to exit through the opening amidships by the engine room, so that you can explore the outside of bow area and the nearby coral garden.

Small Crack

Small Crack is the more southerly channel of Sha’ab Mahmud. Its central body is divided by a large coral formation into two secondary channels from 5 to 8m deep with tidal currents that can become extremely strong. When the tide is flooding and the current it generates moves northwards, you are pushed from the lagoon out towards the open sea. If on the other hand the tide is ebbing, the current runs south towards the lagoon: it is therefore preferable to dive then, so that you can drift back to your boat moored inside the lagoon. Obviously a zodiac would be ideal for dives in Small Crack. On the outer reef wall, which descends to a sandy floor around 20m, you will see gorgonians, Alcyonarians and large table corals. Often there are turtle and also Leopard sharks and Whitetip reef sharks. In the summer there are schools of barracuda and jackfish, and near the mouth of the channel there is an abundance of fire coral.