STRAIT OF TIRAN
The Strait of Tiran lies at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba and is bounded on the west by the
the coast of Sinai and on the east by the island of Tiran. In the middle of this channel are four coral reefs lying in a northeast-southwest direction that was named after the 19th-century English cartographers who drew the first nautical map of this region: Jackson Reef, Woodhouse Reef, Thomas Reef and Gordon Reef.
- These reefs divide the strait into two canals: to the east is the so-called Grafton Passage, which is used exclusively by ships going northwards, while to the west is the Enterprise Passage for ships heading south. East of the island of Tiran and the nearby island of Sanafir – both part of Saudi Arabia but granted to Egypt – the configuration of the canal floor makes navigation impossible.
- On a level with the Strait of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba
- is reduced from an average width of 10-12 miles to 2.4 miles, while the seabed ranges from a depth of 1,270 meters to 250 meters in Enterprise Passage and a mere 71 meters in Grafton Passage. On the one hand, this particular configuration of the strait reduces deep water exchange between the
- Gulf of Aqaba and the rest of the Red Sea, causing an increase of salinity and temperature; on the other, it gives rise also to an increase in the speed of the tidal currents and the average height of the waves moved by the wind which, channelled, as it is, by the tall mountains of Sinai and Saudi Arabia, is in turn subject to acceleration.
- The peculiar topographical arrangement of these reefs and the presence of prevailing winds coming from the north, which are stronger in the morning and calmer in the afternoon, means their western and northern sides (known as the ‘outside’) are much more exposed to the action of the waves than the eastern and southern ones, which are inside’ and sheltered.
- The strong currents characterizing the Strait of
- Tiran transport great quantities of plankton and other nutrient material every day, thus supplying a great deal of food to the corals and hence to the reef fish, which in turn are eaten by the large pelagic predators such as barracuda, jackfish, tuna and above all sharks, which are always present in this zone. Consequently, scuba divers in the waters of Tiran are sure to see not only an infinite number of corals but also rich fauna, both reef and pelagic. However, they must always be careful of the wind, tides and currents here, which will condition the time, place and type of dive.
- THE WRECKS OF TIRAN
- Apart from the wreck of Loullia, Lara and Kormoran which will be dealt with in the respective chapters, there are also other wrecks in the Strait of Tiran. Here is a list:
- Maria Schroeder
- (ex Rolf Jarl) N 28° 11.329′-E 34.26.523‘ Year of construction: 1920 Place of construction: Trondheim (Norway) Ran aground on the reef in Nabq 11th April 1956
- Anghia Vivara
- (or Aghia Varvara) N 28° 03.700-E 34° 26.677” Year of construction: 1950 Length: 76 m Owned by Gestar Shipping Co. of Famagosta (Cyprus) Ran aground on the reef in Nabq 27th June 1976
- Hey Daroma
- (ex Lairds Loch) N 28° 03.482′-E 34° 26.398 Year of construction: 1940 Length: 90.5 m Displacement: 1,736 t Owned by Sefinot Ltd of Eilat (Israel) Ran aground on the reef in Nabq in September 1970
- Million Hope
- (ex Ryusei Maru) N 28° 03.482′-E 34° 26.398 Year of construction: 1972 Length: 174.6 m Displacement: 26,000 t Ran aground south of Nabq on 20th June 1996 exactly above the wreck of Hey Daroma Israeli War Ship Located not far from the Laguna Reef lighthouse. Yet to be found
- Niger Basin
- Sank in May 1982 close to Gordon Reef. Yet to be found
- Ralai Sank
- in April 1983 close to Gordon Reef. Yet to be found
- THE ISLAND OF TIRAN
- The Island of Tiran,
- shaped like an orange segment, is situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. Together with the smaller and less well-known island of Sanafir, situated east of Tiran Island, they constitute an integral part of the Ras Mohammed National Park. Tiran has a territory of 3,100 hectares; its northern part is low and sandy whereas the rest of the island is mountainous with two peaks, Gebel Tiran (525 meters) and the smaller Gebel el-Madhbah (235 meters). On the western side of Tiran opens a vast bay towards the north called Foul Bay, and to the south, we find numerous mangroves (Avicennia sp.). hosting a small population of dugongs (Dugong dugon). Eight bird species nest in Tiran
- (Western reef heron or Egretta gularis, Spoonbill or
- Platalea leucorodia,
- White-eyed gull or Larus leucophtalmus, Striated heron or Butorides striatus, White-cheeked tern or Sterna repressed, Lesser crested tern or Sterna bengalensis, Caspian tern or Sterna caspia and Sooty Falcon Falco concolor) and the big Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a common visitor The islands of Tiran and Sanafir belong in reality to Saudi Arabia but they were given as a concession to Egypt for their strategic importance. In fact, there is an observation post for the MFO (Multinational Force & Observers) on the western side of Tiran Island. It is called Observation Post 3-11 and is situated at a height of 240 meters with a permanent resident team of three military personnel (an officer and two soldiers) who are observing and controlling the navigation of ships in the Strait. The transportation of these observers, who are substituted every three days, as well as maintaining their supply of food and water, is done by helicopter. On the western side of the island is a huge buoy
- anchored to the seabed at 50 meters. This is a mooring for three ships donated by the Italian Navy and at the disposal of the MFO to control the movements of the ships in the Strait and they are ready to intervene in case of need. There is also an Egyptian military emplacement at the extreme western side of Tiran close to the coast. Tiran and Sanafir are considered military zones and going ashore are not allowed. Furthermore, you should not forget that apart from sandy beaches, Tiran still has landmines in numerous places.
28°01.063' N – 34°29.242' E n August 1984 the ship Kormoran, built …
28°00.119' N – 34°27.970' E located between Thomas Reef and Jackson Reef. …
27°59.437' N – 34°27.644' E This reef is one of the most …
27°59.847' N – 34°28.915' E The western side of Tiran Island is …
28°00.354' N – 34°28.283'E Jackson Reef is the most northerly reef in …
27°59.097' N – 34°27.250' E Gordon Reef is known and easily identified …