For over a year now, myself and a group of friends, ex-servicemen from Australia and the USA, have been diving together on weekends in Aqaba –Jordan’s port city, which lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba, on the Red Sea.
With topography that lends itself to extremely varied scuba and technical diving, divers can enter the water amongst stunning coral reefs and reach depth quickly where shelves of expansive fan coral await. The coral reef ecosystem contains over 110 species of soft corals, 120 species of hard corals, many of which are centuries old, and over 1000 species of fish. Sting and manta rays, clown, angel, butterfly and lionfish, and occasionally turtles, eels, and dolphins are spotted amongst the resort's exquisite coral reefs. Just a few weeks ago, on our ascent at 9 meters, a whale shark came to say hello! This rich variety of marine life is easy to find and observe because this water is famed for its cleanliness and visibility. From walls and canyons to wrecks, Aqaba can offer a spectacular diving experience to divers of all abilities.
And if you’re a technical diver, it’s well worth exploring Aqaba. Several wrecks have been sunk at 70m and 100m and provide haunting venues for exploration. Rohan Cadzow, of Sea Star Watersports, one of only two Technical Dive Instructors in Aqaba, regularly takes divers down to explore them.
And yet, something which puzzles me is that Aqaba is still relatively undiscovered as a diving haven for those who like to get off the beaten (coral) track and experience something a bit more special…unusual…
So, on Friday, July 29, to put Aqaba on the world scuba and technical diving map, we will attempt to break the existing depth record of 144m in the Gulf of Aqaba by diving to 166.6m. Rohan will dive to 166.6m, and I will be his closest support diver at 145m.
But this is about more than just breaking a record, this is about preserving the area’s unique ecology. To raise awareness of marine conservation, we’re supporting Project AWAREand the Jordanian Royal Ecological Diving Societyby holding a beach and reef clean up day on Saturday, July 30th. Rohan will be sponsored for every ten meters he dives and we have some amazing prizes that will raise serious money for our organizations. All funds raised will be split between the two.
We’d love to hear from any Project AWARE divers, especially if you can join us in Aqaba on the weekend of July 28-July30 because there’s heaps going on above and below the surface. Royal Jordaniando great deals to and from Jordan, and Sea Star Watersports(a five star IDC PADI center) in Aqabahas some new technical diving equipment which needs to be put through its paces! The Kempinsky, Aqaba,has a special dive discount for anyone supporting Team 166.6’s dive.
Please keep track of our progress on Facebook: 166point6 Dive Team; Twitter: @166point6; and our website www.166point6.com. And please get in touch if you have good ideas to share!
- Duncan Baillie (PADI Dive Master)