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This morning we were again in Ras Mohammed, and our first stop was at the mangrove beds near Shark and Yolande reefs. These plants are amazing, growing in the middle of the desert, and filtering both saltwater and deep underground freshwater to survive. Even better than the mangroves, are the colonies of Fiddler crabs that live around them, feeding on dead leaf litter and other lovely things in the sand. We spent a good twenty minutes watching these guys bustling about, waving their one comedy-sized claw!
After the crab watching was over, we went to a lovely beach area beside the Eel Garden dive site. This site was absolutely deserted and hence perfect for our survey work. Before we got in the water we had to set out posts along the beach at 50m intervals for 200m. From the last post, 200m from our starting point we ran a lead line over the reef plate and let it hang down the reef wall so when snorkelling we would know when to stop and turn around.
In the water, we swam over the shallow reef (where I discovered first hand just how sharp coral is - ouch!), out to where it becomes a lovely coral wall. We then lined ourselves up with the first post, and set out along the shore. Today we were recording butterflyfish species, which involves literally ticking off any of those fish that you can see within a 5m vision 'tunnel' all along the 200m sampling area. We were lucky today that we had the reef virtually to ourselves, and it was the most beautiful one we had been to - a typical Ras Mohammed wall reef (as any divers reading will be familiar with!).
Whilst doing the survey I did miss having scuba gear- I'm sure loads of the little fish were hiding from me under bits of rock and being able to properly look for them would have made the survey more accurate (my freediving skills are very limited!).
But the sun was shining, we had a beautiful reef to look at and we were let loose in the afternoon to snorkel by ourselves, allegedly to look for soft corals but most of us just enjoyed being in the water and taking photos!
Tonight was our first (and only) free evening, so as you can imagine we got home and went straight to the pub!
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