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Liveaboard Diving in Woodhouse Reef
Woodhouse Reef Dive Site : Egypt
The longest reef of The Straits of Tiran is Woodhouse Reef at nearly a mile long. It is also the most exposed reef of the Tiran Straits, and no permanent moorings will be found. Jackson Reef, the next reef to the north, connects to Woodhouse Reef via a submerged saddle, a low point between two mountains offering striking underwater views.
Being so exposed, all dives on this reef are drift dives normally starting in the southern half of Woodhouse Reef, drifting northwards. Beyond the northern tip of Woodhouse is an area known as The Washing Machine. Be very careful when approaching the northern point as it gets its name from the whirling currents that spin off the edge of the reef and towards the shipping lanes.
What you can see
Woodhouse Reef is one of the best sites in The Straits of Tiran for shark observation. Oceanic whitetip sharks, grey reef sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks and leopard sharks are all known visitors here. They typically lie in wait on sandy patches where some protection from the current can be offered. Sharks use these areas to rest allowing even the novice photographer to take spectacular photos to show off to all their friends.
Dives often start on the southern half of the reef. Maximum depth is fairly deep at 100 feet (30 m) and visibility is usually in excess of 65 feet (20 m). As the dive progresses to the north, the depth begins to shallow a little and depending on where the dive is ended, you may be in as little as 40 feet (12 m) of water. The strength of the current also increases as one heads north, so be careful!
The most notable feature of Woodhouse Reef is the canyon that sits roughly in the middle of the reef on the southern edge, at a depth of approximately 80 feet (25 m). (This is sometimes used as the turning point of the dive depending on the strength of the currents. If currents are not so strong, it is possible to continue on, over the canyon.) The canyon runs parallel to the southern edge of Woodhouse Reef, opening up to a sandy shelf where sharks are often spotted. It's also fairly common to see spotted eagle rays here, perhaps the prettiest of all the ray species. Many species of coral and fish have made their home all along the walls of the canyon.
There are many species of fish that find shelter in the reef, including the fascinating unicorn fish, if youíve never seen one, you'll instantly recognise it! Rainbow coloured fusilier fish also appear in large groups along with snappers and grunts. Hiding away in the nooks and crannies, you might find one of several types of intricately-armoured crabs. Red Sea clown fish, and sometimes shrimp, are found accommodating themselves in the red anemones. Green sea turtles also find shelter in this reef.
Coral density is high, filled with exuberant yellows, reds and oranges from the soft coral species, as well as some of the largest growths of black corals, giving rise to beautifully contrasting scenes. Impressive branching structures of fire coral and gorgonian fans are dotted along the reef, further adding to the outstanding landscape. Ensure you can find yourself an underwater torch to make the most of the high-ranging colour spectrums here.
Egyptian liveaboards visit the reef and offer a calmer trip than day boats on what can be quite choppy water. Boats tend to set off from either Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada. Both ports are conveniently situated close to Sharm el Sheikh International Airport and Hurghada International Airport respectively.