Underwater scenery near the surface in Saint John in the Red Sea
Saint John’s reefs are located in the south of the Red Sea in Egypt. It is a shoal of 200 meters deep, which have formed different reefs. Some of them come to the surface and some others have their top few meters below the surface. In Arabic, they are called "habili".
During our last underwater photo project, we decided to dive mostly dives on these marine shelves. Indeed, we have done many dives on the reefs of Saint John. We photographed the colorful soft coral colonies that abound because of a warm water temperature above 25 degrees, even in winter. We have photographed the abundant wildlife because of the large number of coral species. But we never had taken the time to focus on the tops of the habilis.
They are completely covered with hard corals hosting a large number of small reef fish. Although the surf and winter storms can be very violent, corals are protected from destruction because the depth is about 2 meters (7 feet).
Photographing the tops of the habilis is a dream for an underwater photographer since the lights and colors are varied, numerous and showcase a unique relief. Pictures can only be realized in the morning or mid-afternoon because during the day, the light is too strong and does not highlight the forms of relief.
However an extreme danger lurks inexperienced or too adventurous photographer: the surf. As the depth of the top is quite low, if he swims a little too on the peaks, it may be carried into the surf. Then he can be caught in a real washing machine which it is impossible to escape.
This type of pictures requires a good preparation and caution.