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Night diving around El Gouna

Listed under in El Gouna, Egypt.

  • Photo of Night diving around El Gouna
  • Photo of Night diving around El Gouna
  • Photo of Night diving around El Gouna
  • Photo of Night diving around El Gouna
Photo of Night diving around El Gouna
Photo by Easy Divers Academy
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Just as most divers return to terra firma after a day full of underwater discoveries, night divers set off to get their own look at the reef, which is alive with a fabulous assortment of nocturnal creatures. In the El Gouna region, night dives take place on shallow sites chosen for the absence of current and bearing evocative names such as Poseidon Garden or Dolphin House. Safety always comes first, however, and night dives may be cancelled if windy conditions pose a hazard to navigation.

As night falls, the reef appears transformed; diurnal species snug in for the night, nocturnal bottom dwellers make an appearance, and coral polyps open to give hard coral branches an almost furry aspect. Observing the sleeping and feeding habits of marine wildlife provides endless entertainment: a scorpionfish may be seen snuggling in a coral bowl while a squat cleaner shrimp burrows into the sandy bottom and a parrotfish prefers to sleep in a mucus cocoon. Meanwhile, crustaceans including lobsters, crabs, and shrimps come out. Numerous bright red starfish dot the reef and various species of feather stars deploy their lithesome tufts to feed on plankton. The silky conical panache of the Christmas tree worm protrudes from the coral and quickly retracts when approached. Slate pencil sea urchins graze on algae, the occasional blue spotted stingray glides past in search of a meal, and schools of arrow-shaped cornetfish dart to and fro in their hunt for small fry. The translucent bodies of squids change colors and lively thin worms wriggle in the beams of divers’ flashlights.

On one occasion, I was lucky enough to spot a Spanish dancer. This rare bright red giant nudibranch owes its name to the Flamenco-like dance it performs when stressed or disturbed. Our dancer only crawled along the bottom, and while I was momentarily disappointed by the lack of spectacular show, the comforting feeling of having passed without making a nuisance of myself was more than adequate compensation. But all is not calm and peaceful in the dark. The infamous acanthaster, commonly known as crown-of-thorns, is a starfish that feeds on coral and can destroy a sizeable portion of reef in just one night. The species had been on the increase at least partially as a result of the overfishing of tritons, its only predator. Fortunately, campaigns to remove the dangerous acanthaster from the Red Sea have met with some measure of success and sightings have been less common in recent years.

To finish off a wonderful night dive, kneel on the sandy bottom, switch off your lights, and agitate your arms to make plankton light up the darkness with psychedelic fluorescence!

Only two dive centers have boats licensed to operate night dives in El Gouna: Easy Divers Academy ( and Blue Brothers Diving (

Written by  Francoise Ohayon.

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