Whitetips and Wonders with Mustard

Whitetips and Wonders with Mustard
Red Sea - Egypt
From £1350 inc. flights*
    
  • Face to face with Oceanic white tips
  • Snap turtles and soft corals at Zabagad
  • Itinerary designed for photographers
  • Escorted by Alex Mustard
  • Free nitrox
Photo pro Alex Mustard is heading to the deep south of Egypt - join him to learn the secrets of his distinctive style as you sail to Elphinstone, Rocky and Zabagad, St Johns and Fury Shoal. From adrenalin racing oceanic white tip encounters to the rich Red Sea corals of the deep south, you will have repeat dives at each site to maximise your chances of taking that cover worthy shot. This itinerary has been custom built and timed for the underwater photo opps. Long relaxed dives in the warm waters with no end of photo subjects and Alex' professional tuition... what more could a budding underwater photographer want?

Goals of the trip
One of the main goals of this trip is to photograph oceanic white tips. These are charismatic and inquisitive sharks that roam the seas but there are few places in the world where you reliably find them. In Egypt oceanics appear seasonally on deep wall sites (possibly for mating - the females bear large mating scars). Each year they migrate towards Elphinstone and can be found in large numbers, usually between the surface and 10m. Their distinctive rounded fins tips and curiosity make them ideal photographic subjects.

The southern marine park of Rocky and Zabagad will be the other focus of the trip. Here the goal is to find some of the area's turtles to photograph. Zabagad is a nesting ground (land trips not permitted) and off the south plateau in particular you have great chances to come across hawksbill turtles.

Alex will also be giving daily lectures on board covering reef wide angle photography, shark photography, making the most of covering caverns and caves and reef fish portraits. In the evenings there will be group review sessions.

Diving highlights
As well as the oceanics and turtles, there are many diving highlights to look forward to snapping.

St Johns Caves is a firm favourite with all of our resident photo pros. Here the beams of light penetrate the shallow cave system, spraying light beams all over the seabed. This is your chance to play with composition and lighting in a safe diving environment.

Fury Shoal is another area of the Red Sea that is packed with must see dive sites for photographers. Here the hard corals steal the show. There are numerous macro subjects so you can switch out your wide angle lens and focus on fish portraiture.

Quick Facts

  • Average Water Temp: 28-30 C
  • Average Air Temp: 25 - 35 C
  • Average Visability: 15 - 25m+
  • Good for: Sharks, Walls, Drift
  • Suitable for beginners: No
Alex Says...
  • My workshops are not aimed at absolute beginners. You should have at least been diving with your camera system before. I try and help people who are already shooting, are enthusiastic about their photography and looking to take their photos to the next level. But I try and encourage a range of levels on each trip. There is no minimum camera system requirement for this trip and the teaching is driven by the subject matter, not the gear you own.

This is a typical example of the Whitetips and Wonders with Mustard itinerary. The schedule is subject to change according to prevailing weather conditions and is only given as a example of what you would usually encounter during your holiday.


Scuba Travel have custom built this itinerary along with Alex Mustard

Embarkation
Grand Sea Serpent departs from Port Ghalib in Marsa Alam

Trip Duration
The whitetips and wonders with Mustard trip runs for 7 nights with 7 nights spent on board your liveaboard.

There are normally 3 day dives apart from on your first and last day. Night diving is prohibited whilst at Rocky and Zabagad although there will normally be at least 1 night dive during the week. There are around 18 dives on an average week but this can vary.

Arrival
Once you have been picked up from the airport you will be taken to the port to board your liveaboard. If you are making your own way to the harbour we ask that you not board before 18:00. There will be a full welcome briefing on arrival and you can set your kit up. If you have prepaid any rental equipment this will be given to you on arrival. There is then your first dinner and you can settle in for the evening. The boat will not leave harbour on this first night.

After the boat permissions are sorted, the boat will depart the next morning and the check dive will be made.

The exact dive sites and order will vary week by week depending on what people enjoy, where the best sightings have been and reflect diver experience levels.

Elphinstone
Elphinstone is one of the big name reefs in the Southern Red Sea. It is a slim and relatively small reef with dramatic walls and a plateau at each end. You can do several dives here (weather permitting).

The southern plateau is where oceanic white tips hang out during the later half of the year. You must watch your depth and currents carefully on Elphinstone as conditions can be variable and you do not want to lose visual contact with the reef. However, normally you can just jump off the back of the boat and just wait near the hang tank. The oceanics (often females 1-2m) will come to you!

Look for hammerheads on the north plateau before drifting along the magical wall (the clouds of anthias are vast!). A friendly trumpet fish will often shadow divers as you make your way down the wall.

Rocky & Zabagad
Rocky and Zabagad form the southern most marine parks but are quite different dives!

Rocky is similar to Elphinstone in size - a narrow island that juts out of the water with steep drop offs all around. You can look for shark on the tips where the current is strongest but after this head up to the shallows to enjoy the many overhangs. Fish are usually darting about all over the place so there is plenty to check out. Photographers are well advised to spend time in the shallows at Rocky where the overhangs are packed with smaller fish life and have beautiful purple soft corals. Whip corals are plentiful in the shallows too.

There are normally 2 sites to pick from at Zabagad. Head round to the southern plateau where the reef runs up to a sandy beach used by turtles. You can see plenty of turtles out and about here and the coral pillars are quite simply stunning, draped in soft corals. Rich Red Sea reefs at their most gorgeous. The trawler in the natural harbour is a fun little wreck dive and one of the only bit of metal in the whole area! So if you are a metal head this is the dive for you.

St Johns Caves
St Johns caves - a highlight for many a photographer. Here you really can lose yourself in the shallow and safe cave system before working your way out onto the outer reef. Atmospheric images and creative lighting challenges make this a must do dive for that shot that is a bit different.

Fury Shoal
Fury Shoal is all about the spectacular corals here and abundant marine life. Shaab Claude is perhaps one of the most famous hard coral gardens and simply divine. Malahi is a fun dive with narrow swim throughs to explore. Aub Galawa Soraya and Abu Galawa Kebira are home to small wrecks, a great start to both dives around these coral playgrounds. No matter where you dive here, you will keep clicking away with one winning shot after another.

Disembarkation
You will normally leave the boat after breakfast on your last day and be transferred to a hotel for the day. Your final transfer will take you to the airport for your return flight home. Please do speak to the travel consultant at the time of booking to confirm the exact last day arrangements as it can vary.


If you would like to add an extension, combine this with another product or tweak the itinerary give us a call so we can discuss your dream diving holiday.

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This promises to be a very productive workshop week with the potential for really exciting subject matter on my Whitetips and Wonders with Mustard itinerary.


Whitetips and Wonders with Mustard Map

Autumn in the Red Sea is a great time to visit. The water is still warm from the summer, but as the temperature starts to drop, so the bigger beasties start to come in to the reef. The aim of this workshop is to combine spectacular offshore and remote reefs, with (hopefully) great shark encounters in Egypt's Deep South. For those who have done my summer Red Sea workshops around Sinai, focused on the schools, reefs and wrecks, this workshop is a chance to photograph a very different side of the Red Sea, with hopefully plenty of big animals. It is a few years since I have run a workshop to these reefs, so I am really excited about hitting these sites again.



Our main target shark is the charismatic oceanic whitetip, a species which was once widespread throughout the warm parts of the world's oceans, but it has been fished near the point of extinction. The Red Sea is one of the few remaining places to see them reliably and just a few weeks ago (at exactly the same time as this trip will be in 2013) they had 24 individuals at Elphinstone Reef in a single day. Just a couple will do us, as they tend to swim around the group and right up to everyone bumping their cameras. We will NOT be using any bait, so there can be no guarantee they will be there, but we'll do all we can to ensure good photographic encounters.



Whilst I have tried to outline the ideal itinerary, this may well change if conditions make other sites a better option. We fly in to Marsa Alam, the most southerly airport in the Egyptian Red Sea.


If you would like to add an extension, combine this with another product or tweak the itinerary give us a call so we can discuss your dream diving holiday.

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