Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jordan Feature - July 2010 by Beth and Shaun Tierney, Seafocus

We’re heading back to Jordan... talk about stepping back in time! When we first learned to dive over 20 years ago, we were just coming out of traveller mode. Diving took over our lives and we did two trips to Aqaba two years in row before heading off to get waterlogged all over the world. Now that we have a bit more time to travel again, we’re starting to include a bit more land-based sightseeing in our trips along with exploring the marine world.

Jordan is a fascinating country, absolutely riddled with ancient sites, medieval sites and almost everything in-between. We spent four days gazing at amazing Roman ruins, Biblical landmarks, Crusader castles and then the highlight, the breathtaking city of Petra. Without doubt, it was one of the best few days we have had in a very long time. Our guide, Majdi, was incredible and entertaining so we learned masses. We ate well (don’t go to Jordan thinking you will get thinner) and the entire experience left us wishing for more.

However, we were itching to get to the coast and although Jordan only has a tiny sliver of the Red Sea, we were as always, delighted to see the deep blue ocean shimmering under the blazing Aqaba sun. A couple of thousand dives and 21 years later, we did wonder how we would react to the sites. Seastar Watersports grabbed us from the hotel and straight round to their Club Murjan for an afternoon check out dive.

Tha’er, the manager, led us straight in for a shore dive that turned out to be very different to what we expected and far more exciting - it was a critter dive.
Within minutes we had spotted four different types of pipefish, a stonefish, two devilled scorpionfish, untold lionfish, puffers and morays and an enormous long-tail nudibranch, the likes of which we have only seen in Asia.

We suddenly realised there was a different angle to Aqaba compared to Egypt. Many of the reefs are rimmed by seagrass beds so seeing bottom dwelling critters is far more likely. We even spotted a mating pair of Pegasus seamoths on one dive. Tha’er was disappointed with that first dive – he couldn’t find the frogfish - but we saw one on almost every dive after that. We also saw a turtle on most dives and all the usual suspects when it came to Red Sea fish – anthias, damsels, clowns and butterflies. Critters aren’t for everyone but Aqaba also has some great open sites with tall pinnacles and swathes of hard coral. A few reefs run close to shore where the corals have formed a maze of tunnels and caverns.

There are three dives based around artificial reefs - the Wreck of the Cedar Pride is dramatic with the hull lying on her side across two mounds so you can swim all the way beneath. A short distance away is the wreck of an M42 tank. Sitting in shallow water, the tank plays host to a huge number of lionfish sheltering under and inside. However, our favourite dive was a site called Cables, where communications cables stretching across to Egypt have been laid beneath rocks on the seafloor and are now forming a whole new set of reef structures. Sounds weird, I know but the section where a row of huge structural supports bridge part of the reef are like something out of a James Bond movie.

For more details and images on our trip, please click here.
If you have a bit more time have a look at the video.

Beth and Shaun Tierney/

Beth and Shaun are a successful photo-journalist team. They both learnt to dive within months of their return from a round the world trek in the '80s and eventually took a career break in order to dive their way around the world. Shaun's first career was as a studio photographer but his first love is now shooting underwater. Beth worked in advertising and marketing, most recently as a consultant in the dive industry. They are both PADI Master Scuba Divers and are still working on diving around the world whilst concentrating on writing dive travel books.

No comments: