Coral reefs are one of Nature´s masterpieces, as well as the chief reason for diving the Red Sea. Paradoxically, we divers who so enjoy the beauty of the reef also constitute its greatest enemy.
The survival of the reef depends on an intricate balance between all of its components from the tiny polyps which build the calcium carbonate exoskeleton of the reef, to its great pelagic visitors. The diver is an alien from another dimension.
Each fin-stroke, each unwary movement of the diver may raise a cloud of sediment or worse still, break off a coral branch which will take years to repair. In order to protect the reef, and to raise divers´
awareness of their ecological impact, certain areas were designated National Parks by
the Egyptian authorities.
In 1983, Law 102 came into force declaring the region of Ras Mohammed, including the Ras Mohammed peninsula as well as the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, a Marine Protected Area. In June 1989, the area´s boundaries were enlarged and the region was declared a National Park from Shaab Mahmud in the west to Sharm el Sheikh in the east. In 1991, the area of Ras Nasrani was added to the Park, which was extended further north to Ras Abu Galum in 1992.
Including the 1987 declared St. Catherine Protectorate in central Sinai, a total of 11000 square km are now National Parks. 52% of these area are Egyptian shore-lines and coral reefs on the southern Gulf of Aqaba.