Diving the Fish Shoals at Ras Mohamed, Northern
Diving with the fish shoals is a fantastic
experience, 'hanging out' with hundreds of fish in mid-water
defies description as you become part of the shoal, particularly
with the Bohar Snappers who are not usually found shoaling
in this area, except at this specific time of year. It
is an important time of the year for these fish as mating
is on their agenda, so they are very tolerant of a diver
or two and will allow you to share their 'space'.
||Photographing the shoals is fun because you can
take-up any position in the shoal and fill a card
with wall-to-wall fish, but getting shots which show
the shoal as you remembered it, is a different thing
In the excitement of diving with so much photographic
potential one forgets the basics of taking a photograph
in mixed lighting conditions, moving subject (s),
often a strong current and at changing depths.
With most of the diving 'hazards' under control, you
can make up your mind about the kind of shot you are
looking for - full shoal, focusing on one fish with
a 'fishy' negative space, a profile of the shoal,
head on to the shoal, or a stunning silhouette, literally
hundreds of potential shots.
How can one reduce the odds of getting poor lighting
and blurred pictures, if you are in manual mode with
such a lot going on?
My method, which I use with sharks, mantas and shoals,
in most circumstances, is to get onto the sunny side
of the subject, set your camera mode to shutter priority,
and the speed at a minimum of 1/125 and keep the sun
out of the picture. This allows you to concentrate
on your composition and not having to worry about,
camera settings. However, once you are happy with
'snapping' around the shoal then you switch back to
manual and start to look for the more 'artistic shots'
which require greater visual concentration.
I have become used to diving with shoals of barracuda,
but I still love to swim with them as they scythe
through the water with such ease and grace, I always
feel totally inadequate, finning like mad, only
to have them turn and dive in an attempt to leave
me stranded in open water. I find great enjoyment
in swimming with such beautiful creatures and long
may it continue.
Now my hearing is not that good, after forty odd
years diving, but I swear that they communicate
with each other by sound as I can hear an audible
'swishing' sound once I am in the middle of a shoal.
It could just be the sound of their movement through
the water, but I like my theory best. My friends
think I am suffering from 'raptures of the deep',
but I am sticking to my story.
We regularly see six or seven different
species of shoaling fish on our June trip to Ras
Mohamed, this year was no exception with Snappers,
Barracuda, Emperors, Puffers, Unicorn fish, Spadefish
and a lovely shoal of Goatfish / Long spotted Snappers
at the 'Mushroom' a beautiful little pinnacle close
If you get bored with the fish, then you can photograph
the Spinner and Risso's Dolphins who are frequently
encountered in this area, plus Turtles, and the
best soft corals to be found anywhere in the World.
Try to book your weeks diving as near to the full
moon as possible, because that in the best time
to see the greatest concentrations of shoaling fish.