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Article by: Ame El kasrawy amr@gip4u.net Published: 12/04/2008

Geography, Fauna and Flora

The Red Sea is an enormous basin, 2350km (≈1400 miles) long by about 350km (≈220 miles) broad at its widest point, enclosed to the north by the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba, and at its southernmost point the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which is hundreds of metres deep.

The sea is has a truly unique ecosystem, surrounded as it is, by red-hued bauxite mountains that some believe to be the origin of the name Mare Rostrum – the Red Sea. It was formed 25 million years ago by the separation of the African Continent from the Arabian Peninsula. It is distinguished by the volcanic activity in its shallows, its regular currents, the small tidal range, a salt content of 4.1% (the world’s seas average 3.2%), and a water temperature that drops only slightly in its depths.

The Red Sea has been a commercial highway between the East and the West since classical antiquity. Boats departed loaded with copper, pottery, and cloths to return laden with silks, spices, wood, and even elephants. The cutting of the Suez Canal in 1869 boosted and encouraged a tradition of many centuries of sailing, interspersed with shipwrecks and piratry.

Today the Sea is an essential destination for divers the world over. Over 250 species of coral exist in the Red Sea, 8% of which are endemic. The organism is made up of ―heads‖ of polyps. Half animal and half vegetable, the corals have invaded the reefs like an army of builders. When a colony dies, another starts building on its calcareous skeleton… But this activity can be misleading as, depending on the species, it only grows at a rate of a few millimetres or centimetres per year – so it takes thousands of years for the coral to carpet the seafloor and model out the relief.

With 1248 species, of which 17% are endemic, the Red Sea is like a magnificent aquarium, and its reefs are a haven for many species of fish. Some use them to hide from predators, others lay their eggs there, and for most the reefs are their feeding grounds.

 

External Article Link: http://www.property-partnership.com/overseas-property-guides/overseas-property-guide.cfm?id=123

Article Link: http://www.property-partnership.com/overseas-property-guides/overseas-property-guide.cfm?id=123

Please contact the author at amr@gip4u.net for more information.

 

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