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Tiran Island

Posted On : 20/02/2023 Kate Clark 50
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Tiran Island is located between Sharm El Sheikh and Saudi Arabia, at the point in the Gulf of Aqaba where the distance between the Sinai Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula is reduced to a few kilometers. Tiran Island is visible from all points of the Sharm El Sheikh coast and is one of the most pristine areas in the Red Sea.The island is completely devoid of any form of civilization and the surrounding seabed is characterized by the presence of four splendid coral reefs: the Jackson reef, the Woodhouse reef, another reef called Thomas and finally the one known as Gordon. The richness and variety of the seabed make it an ideal destination, both for diving enthusiasts and for those who simply love to snorkel. 

 

The island is located at the entrance to the Strait of Tiran which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. It is part of the Ras Muhammad National Park and Protected Area, covering an area of about 80 square kilometers. The Strait of Tiran represents the only access from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea for Israel. Its particular strategic position has made it the subject of controversy in the past, but also in recent years. In fact, in 2016, following an agreement with Saudi Arabia, the island, previously administratively Egyptian, but located in Saudi territorial waters, was declared Saudi territory.

 

 

Tiran Island

A historical curiosity:

 Tiran could be the island that Procopius called Lotabe, which was an important toll station for shipping in the area, but other hypotheses identify Lotabe as other islands in the Gulf of Aqaba. In 473 a Saracen named Amorkesos conquered the island and appropriated the revenues, but the Byzantine Empire reconquered it again 25 years later, granting autonomy to its inhabitants, who had been liable to pay taxes on goods exported to India. There is no mention of Lotabe in the accounts relating to the Islamic conquests, suggesting that the island was uninhabited at that time. 

 

Tiran diving area is only accessible by boat of course. The names of the four reefs are those of four English cartographers. The seabed, as already mentioned, is particularly famous internationally for the extraordinary variety of corals it hosts, but also for the extremely strong currents that pull towards the southwest and which have created the ideal environment for the diffusion of pelagic fish. .

 

The admirable nature of Tiran Island

Jackson Reef is the northernmost one and in its northernmost part lies the wreck of a merchant ship. In this area dives usually start from the southern side, along the moorings, sheltered from the strongest currents. Moving north, divers will be able to cross a wonderful forest of Gorgonian corals and observe numerous species of bottom fish at a depth of 20-30 meters. If you dive in this seabed at the end of summer, you have a good chance of spotting hammerhead sharks. 

The Woodhouse seabed is the longest of the four, home to sharks and manta rays, the southern part of the site consists of a 30m wall completely covered in coral from surface to bottom. At about 25 meters there is a canyon which opens onto a sort of coral garden crossed by sand alleys. The smallest of the depths is the Thomas Reef, it is characterized by very strong currents, so it is not always possible to dive.

Finally, the seabed further south, the Gordon Reef, is very different from the others, in fact it is more varied, with high and low depths. Many varieties of fish live here too and if you are lucky you can admire white spotted sharks resting on the seabed. On the surface, in addition to the lighthouse, the Louilla wreck still remains. 

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By Kate Clark

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