The RED SEA (also the ERYTHRAEAN SEA) is a seawater inlet of the
Indian Ocean , lying between
Asia . The connection to the
ocean is in the south through the
Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of
Aden . To the north lie the
Sinai Peninsula , the
Gulf of Aqaba , and
Gulf of Suez (leading to the
Suez Canal ). The
Red Sea is a Global
200 ecoregion . The sea is underlain by the
Red Sea Rift which is part
of the Great Rift Valley .
Red Sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 km2 (169,100 mi2),
is about 2250 km (1398 mi) long and, at its widest point, 355 km
(220.6 mi) wide. It has a maximum depth of 3,040 m (9,970 ft) in the
Suakin Trough, and an average depth of 490 m (1,608 ft).
However, there are also extensive shallow shelves, noted for their
marine life and corals . The sea is the habitat of over 1,000
invertebrate species, and 200 soft and hard corals. It is the world's
northernmost tropical sea.
* 1 Extent
* 2 Names
* 3 History
* 3.1 Ancient era
Middle Ages and modern era
* 4 Oceanography
* 4.2 Tidal range
* 4.3 Current
* 4.4 Wind regime
* 5 Geology
* 5.1 Mineral resources
* 8 Security
* 9 Facts and figures
* 10 Tourism
* 11 Bordering countries
* 12 Towns and cities
* 13 See also
* 14 References
* 15 Further reading
* 16 External links
International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the
Red Sea as follows: On the North. The Southern limits of the Gulfs
Aqaba . On the South. A line joining Husn Murad
(12°40′N 43°30′E / 12.667°N 43.500°E / 12.667; 43.500
Ras Siyyan (12°29′N 43°20′E / 12.483°N 43.333°E
/ 12.483; 43.333 ).
Tihama on the
Red Sea near Khaukha,
Red Sea is a direct translation of the Greek Erythra Thalassa
Latin Mare Rubrum (alternatively Sinus
Arabicus, literally "Arabian Gulf"), Arabic : البحر
الأحمر, translit. Al-Baḥr Al-Aḥmar (alternatively
بحر القلزم Baḥr Al-Qulzum, literally "the Sea of
Somali Badda Cas and Tigrinya Qeyyiḥ bāḥrī (ቀይሕ
ባሕሪ). The name of the sea may signify the seasonal blooms of the
Trichodesmium erythraeum near the water's surface. A
theory favored by some modern scholars is that the name red is
referring to the direction south, just as the
Black Sea 's name may
refer to north. The basis of this theory is that some Asiatic
languages used color words to refer to the cardinal directions .
Herodotus on one occasion uses
Red Sea and Southern Sea
Historically, it was also known to western geographers as Mare Mecca
(Sea of Mecca), and Sinus Arabicus (Gulf of Arabia). Some ancient
geographers called the
Red Sea the Arabian Gulf or Gulf of Arabia.
The association of the
Red Sea with the biblical account of the
Israelites crossing the
Red Sea is ancient, and was made explicit in
Septuagint translation of the
Book of Exodus
Book of Exodus from
Hebrew to Koine
Greek in approximately the third century B.C. In that version, the Yam
Hebrew : ים סוף, lit. 'Sea of Reeds') is translated
as Erythra Thalassa (Red Sea). The
Red Sea is one of four seas named
in English after common color terms — the others being the Black Sea
White Sea and the
Yellow Sea . The direct rendition of the Greek
Erythra thalassa in
Mare Erythraeum refers to the
north-western part of the
Indian Ocean , and also to a region on Mars
Ancient Egyptian expedition to the
Land of Punt
Land of Punt on the Red Sea
coast during the reign of Queen
The earliest known exploration of the
Red Sea was conducted by
ancient Egyptians , as they attempted to establish commercial routes
to Punt . One such expedition took place around 2500 BC, and another
around 1500 BC (by
Hatshepsut ). Both involved long voyages down the
Red Sea. Historically, scholars argued whether these trips were
possible. The biblical
Book of Exodus
Book of Exodus tells the tale of the
Israelites ' crossing of a body of water , which the
Hebrew text calls
Yam Suph (
Hebrew : יַם סוּף).
Yam Suph was traditionally
identified as the Red Sea. Rabbi
Saadia Gaon (882‒942 CE), in his
Judeo-Arabic translation of the Pentateuch, identifies the crossing
place of the
Red Sea as Baḥar al-Qulzum, meaning the
Gulf of Suez .
(The story is part of the larger biblical lore about an Exodus of
Israelites under Moses ).
Yam Suph can also been translated as Sea of
Reeds . Settlements and commercial centers in the vicinity of the
Red Sea involved in the spice trade , as described in the
In the 6th century BC,
Darius the Great of Persia sent reconnaissance
missions to the Red Sea, improving and extending navigation by
locating many hazardous rocks and currents. A canal was built between
Nile and the northern end of the
Red Sea at
Suez . In the late 4th
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great sent Greek naval expeditions down the
Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. Greek navigators continued to explore and
compile data on the Red Sea.
Agatharchides collected information about
the sea in the 2nd century BC. The
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Red Sea"), a Greek periplus written by an unknown
author around the 1st century AD, contains a detailed description of
the Red Sea's ports and sea routes. The
Periplus also describes how
Hippalus first discovered the direct route from the
Red Sea to India.
Red Sea was favored for
Roman trade with India starting with the
Augustus , when the
Roman Empire gained control over the
Egypt , and the northern Red Sea. The route had been
used by previous states but grew in the volume of traffic under the
Romans. From Indian ports goods from
China were introduced to the
Roman world. Contact between Rome and
China depended on the Red Sea,
but the route was broken by the
Aksumite Empire around the 3rd century
MIDDLE AGES AND MODERN ERA
Middle Ages , the
Red Sea was an important part of the
spice trade route. In 1513, trying to secure that channel to Portugal,
Afonso de Albuquerque laid siege to
Aden but was forced to retreat.
They cruised the
Red Sea inside the
Bab al-Mandab , as the first
European fleet to have sailed these waters.
France ordered General Napoleon to invade
Egypt and take
control of the Red Sea. Although he failed in his mission, the
Jean-Baptiste Lepère , who took part in it, revitalised the
plan for a canal which had been envisaged during the reign of the
Pharaohs . Several canals were built in ancient times from the
Red Sea along or near the line of the present
Sweet Water Canal ,
but none lasted for long. The
Suez Canal was opened in November 1869.
At the time, the British, French, and Italians shared the trading
posts. The posts were gradually dismantled following the First World
War . After the
Second World War
Second World War , the Americans and Soviets exerted
their influence whilst the volume of oil tanker traffic intensified.
Six Day War culminated in the closure of the
from 1967 to 1975. Today, in spite of patrols by the major maritime
fleets in the waters of the Red Sea, the
Suez Canal has never
recovered its supremacy over the Cape route, which is believed to be
Annotated view of the
Nile and Red Sea, with a dust storm
Red Sea is between arid land, desert and semi-desert . Reef
systems are better developed along the
Red Sea mainly because of its
greater depths and an efficient water circulation pattern. The Red Sea
water mass-exchanges its water with the
Arabian Sea ,
Indian Ocean via
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden . These physical factors reduce the effect of high
salinity caused by evaporation in the north and relatively hot water
in the south.
The climate of the
Red Sea is the result of two monsoon seasons; a
northeasterly monsoon and a southwesterly monsoon. Monsoon winds occur
because of differential heating between the land and the sea. Very
high surface temperatures and high salinities make this one of the
warmest and saltiest bodies of seawater in the world. The average
surface water temperature of the
Red Sea during the summer is about 26
°C (79 °F ) in the north and 30 °C (86 °F) in the south, with only
about 2 °C (3.6 °F) variation during the winter months. The overall
average water temperature is 22 °C (72 °F). Temperature and
visibility remain good to around 200 m (656 ft). The sea is known for
its strong winds and unpredictable local currents.
The rainfall over the
Red Sea and its coasts is extremely low,
averaging 0.06 m (2.36 in) per year. The rain is mostly short showers,
often with thunderstorms and occasionally with dust storms . The
scarcity of rainfall and no major source of fresh water to the Red Sea
result in excess evaporation as high as 205 cm (81 in) per year and
high salinity with minimal seasonal variation. A recent underwater
expedition to the
Red Sea offshore from
surface water temperatures 28 °C in winter and up to 34 °C in the
summer, but despite that extreme heat the coral was healthy with much
fish life with very little sign of coral bleaching , with only 9%
infected by Thalassomonas loyana , the 'white plague' agent. Favia
favus coral there harbours a virus, BA3, which kills T. loyana. Plans
are afoot to use samples of these corals' apparently heat-adapted
commensal algae to salvage bleached coral elsewhere.
Red Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world,
owing to high evaporation.
Salinity ranges from between ~36 ‰ in the
southern part because of the effect of the
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden water and
reaches 41 ‰ in the northern part, owing mainly to the Gulf of Suez
water and the high evaporation. The average salinity is 40 ‰.
(Average salinity for the world's seawater is ~35 ‰ on the Practical
Salinity Scale, or PPS; that translates to 3.5% actual dissolved
The salinity of the
Red Sea is greater than the world average,
approximately 4 percent. This is due to several factors:
* High rate of evaporation and very little precipitation.
* Lack of significant rivers or streams draining into the sea.
* Limited connection with the Indian Ocean, which has lower water
In general tide ranges between 0.6 m (2.0 ft) in the north, near the
mouth of the
Gulf of Suez and 0.9 m (3.0 ft) in the south near the
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden but it fluctuates between 0.20 m (0.66 ft) and 0.30 m
(0.98 ft) away from the nodal point. The central
Red Sea (
is therefore almost tideless, and as such the annual water level
changes are more significant. Because of the small tidal range the
water during high tide inundates the coastal sabkhas as a thin sheet
of water up to a few hundred metres rather than flooding the sabkhas
through a network of channels. However, south of
Jeddah in the Shoiaba
area the water from the lagoon may cover the adjoining sabkhas as far
as 3 km (2 mi), whereas, north of
Jeddah in the Al-Kharrar area the
sabkhas are covered by a thin sheet of water as far as 2 km (1.2 mi).
The prevailing north and northeast winds influence the movement of
water in the coastal inlets to the adjacent sabkhas, especially during
storms. Winter mean sea level is 0.5 m (1.6 ft) higher than in summer.
Tidal velocities passing through constrictions caused by reefs, sand
bars and low islands commonly exceed 1–2 m/s (3–6.5 ft/s). Coral
reefs in the
Red Sea are near Egypt, Eritrea, Israel, Saudi Arabia,
Red Sea detailed current data is lacking, partially because
they are weak and variable both spatially and temporally. Temporal and
spatial currents variation is as low as 0.5 m (1.6 ft) and are
governed all by wind. During the summer, NW winds drive surface water
south for about four months at a velocity of 15–20 cm/s (6–8
in/s), whereas in winter the flow is reversed resulting in the inflow
of water from the
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea. The net value of the
latter predominates, resulting in an overall drift to the north end of
the Red Sea. Generally, the velocity of the tidal current is between
50–60 cm/s (20–23.6 in/s) with a maximum of 1 m/s (3.3 ft/s) at
the mouth of the al-Kharrar Lagoon. However, the range of the
north-northeast current along the Saudi coast is 8–29 cm/s (3–11.4
The north part of the
Red Sea is dominated by persistent north-west
winds , with speeds ranging between 7 km/h (4.3 mph) and 12 km/h (7.5
mph). The rest of the
Red Sea and the
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden are subjected to
regular and seasonally reversible winds. The wind regime is
characterized by seasonal and regional variations in speed and
direction with average speed generally increasing northward.
Wind is the driving force in the
Red Sea to transport material as
suspension or as bedload. Wind-induced currents play an important role
Red Sea in resuspending bottom sediments and transferring
materials from sites of dumping to sites of burial in quiescent
environment of deposition. Wind-generated current measurement is
therefore important in order to determine the sediment dispersal
pattern and its role in the erosion and accretion of the coastal rock
exposure and the submerged coral beds.
Dust storm over the
Red Sea was formed by the
Arabian peninsula being split from the
Africa by movement of the
Red Sea Rift . This split started in
Eocene and accelerated during the
Oligocene . The sea is still
widening, and it is considered that it will become an ocean in time
(as proposed in the model of
John Tuzo Wilson ). In 1949, a deep water
survey reported anomalously hot brines in the central portion of the
Red Sea. Later work in the 1960s confirmed the presence of hot, 60 °C
(140 °F), saline brines and associated metalliferous muds. The hot
solutions were emanating from an active subseafloor rift . The high
salinity of the waters was not hospitable to living organisms.
Sometime during the
Tertiary period, the
Bab el Mandeb closed and the
Red Sea evaporated to an empty hot dry salt-floored sink. Effects
causing this would have been:
* A "race" between the
Red Sea widening and
Perim Island erupting
Bab el Mandeb with lava .
* The lowering of world sea level during the Ice Ages because of
much water being locked up in the ice caps .
A number of volcanic islands rise from the center of the sea. Most
are dormant. However, in 2007,
Jabal al-Tair island in the Bab el
Mandeb strait erupted violently. Two new islands were formed in 2011
and 2013 in the Zubair Archipelago , a small chain of islands owned by
Yemen. The first island, Sholan Island, emerged in an eruption in
December 2011, the second island, Jadid, emerged in September 2013.
Red Sea coast in Taba ,
In terms of mineral resources the major constituents of the Red Sea
sediments are as follows:
* Biogenic constituents:
Nanofossils, foraminifera , pteropods , siliceous fossils
* Volcanogenic constituents:
Tuffites , volcanic ash , montmorillonite , cristobalite , zeolites
* Terrigenous constituents:
Quartz , feldspars , rock fragments, mica , heavy minerals, clay
* Authigenic minerals:
Sulfide minerals , aragonite , Mg-calcite , protodolomite, dolomite
, quartz, chalcedony .
* Evaporite minerals:
Magnesite , gypsum , anhydrite , halite , polyhalite
Fe-montmorillonite, goethite , hematite , siderite , rhodochrosite ,
pyrite , sphalerite , anhydrite.
Persian Gulf § Wildlife
Ain Sukhna beach,
Red Sea is a rich and diverse ecosystem . More than 1200 species
of fish have been recorded in the Red Sea, and around 10% of these
are found nowhere else. This also includes 42 species of deepwater
Red Sea coral and marine fish
The rich diversity is in part due to the 2,000 km (1,240 mi) of coral
reef extending along its coastline ; these fringing reefs are
5000–7000 years old and are largely formed of stony acropora and
porites corals. The reefs form platforms and sometimes lagoons along
the coast and occasional other features such as cylinders (such as the
Blue Hole (Red Sea) at
Dahab ). These coastal reefs are also visited
by pelagic species of
Red Sea fish, including some of the 44 species
of shark .
Red Sea also contains many offshore reefs including several true
atolls. Many of the unusual offshore reef formations defy classic
(i.e., Darwinian) coral reef classification schemes, and are generally
attributed to the high levels of tectonic activity that characterize
The special biodiversity of the area is recognized by the Egyptian
government, who set up the
Ras Mohammed National Park in 1983. The
rules and regulations governing this area protect local marine life,
which has become a major draw for diving enthusiasts.
Divers and snorkellers should be aware that although most Red Sea
species are innocuous, a few are hazardous to humans: see Red Sea
species hazardous to humans .
Other marine habitats include sea grass beds, salt pans , mangroves
and salt marshes .
There is extensive demand for desalinated water to meet the needs of
the population and the industries along the Red Sea.
There are at least 18 desalination plants along the
Red Sea coast of
Saudi Arabia which discharge warm brine and treatment chemicals
(chlorine and anti-scalants ) that bleach and kill corals and cause
diseases to the fish. This is only localized, but it may intensify
with time and profoundly impact the fishing industry.
The water from the
Red Sea is also used by oil refineries and cement
factories for cooling. Used water drained back into the coastal zones
may harm the nearshore environment of the Red Sea.
Red Sea is part of the sea roads between
Europe , the Persian
Gulf and East
Asia , and as such has heavy shipping traffic .
Government-related bodies with responsibility to police the Red Sea
area include the
Port Said Port Authority ,
Suez Canal Authority and
Red Sea Ports Authority of
Jordan Maritime Authority , Israel
Port Authority ,
Saudi Ports Authority and Sea Ports Corporation of
FACTS AND FIGURES
* Length: ~2,250 km (1,398.1 mi) - 79% of the eastern
Red Sea with
numerous coastal inlets
* Maximum Width: ~ 306–355 km (190–220 mi)–
* Minimum Width: ~ 26–29 km (16–18 mi)-
Bab el Mandeb Strait
* Average Width: ~ 280 km (174.0 mi)
* Average Depth: ~ 490 m (1,607.6 ft)
* Maximum Depth: ~2,211 m (7,253.9 ft)
* Surface Area: 438-450 x 102 km2 (16,900–17,400 sq mi)
* Volume: 215–251 x 103 km3 (51,600–60,200 cu mi)
* Approximately 40% of the
Red Sea is quite shallow (under 100 m/330
ft), and about 25% is under 50 m (164 ft) deep.
* About 15% of the
Red Sea is over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) depth that
forms the deep axial trough.
* Shelf breaks are marked by coral reefs
* Continental slope has an irregular profile (series of steps down
to ~500 m or 1,640 ft)
* Centre of
Red Sea has a narrow trough (
Suakin Trough) (~ 1,000 m
or 3,281 ft; with maximum depth 3,040 m or 9,974 ft)
This section DOES NOT CITE ANY SOURCES . Please help improve this
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The sea is known for its spectacular recreational diving sites, such
Ras Mohammed ,
SS Thistlegorm (shipwreck),
Elphinstone Reef , The
Daedalus Reef , St.John\'s Reef , Rocky Island in
and less known sites in
Sudan such as Sanganeb , Abington , Angarosh
and Shaab Rumi .
Red Sea became a sought-after diving destination after the
Hans Hass in the 1950s, and later by Jacques-Yves
Cousteau . Popular tourist resorts include
El Gouna ,
Marsa Alam , on the west shore of the Red Sea, and
Dahab , and Taba on the Egyptian side of
Sinaï , as
Israel in an area known as the
Red Sea Riviera .
The popular tourist beach of Sharm el-Sheikh was closed to all
swimming in December 2010 due to several serious shark attacks ,
including a fatality. As of December 2010, scientists are
investigating the attacks and have identified, but not verified,
several possible causes including over-fishing which causes large
sharks to hunt closer to shore, tourist boat operators who chum
offshore for shark-photo opportunities, and reports of ships throwing
dead livestock overboard. The sea's narrowness, significant depth, and
sharp drop-offs, all combine to form a geography where large
deep-water sharks can roam in hundreds of meters of water, yet be
within a hundred meters of swimming areas.
Red Sea may be geographically divided into three sections: the
Red Sea proper, and in the north, the
Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of
Suez. The six countries bordering the
Red Sea proper are:
* Eastern shore:
* Western shore:
Gulf of Suez is entirely bordered by Egypt. The Gulf of Aqaba
Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
In addition to the standard geographical definition of the six
countries bordering the
Red Sea cited above, areas such as
sometimes also described as
Red Sea territories. This is primarily due
to their proximity to and geological similarities with the nations
Red Sea and/or political ties with said areas.
TOWNS AND CITIES
Towns and cities on the
Red Sea coast (including the coasts of the
Aqaba and Suez) include:
Al Hudaydah (الحديدة)
Al Lith (الليِّث)
Al Qunfudhah (القنفذة)
* Al-Qusair (القصير)
Al Wajh (الوجه)
* Duba (ضباء)
Eilat (אילת ، ايلات)
El Gouna (الجونة)
* El Suweis (السويس)
* / Hala\'ib (حلايب) (disputed)
* Jazan (جازان)
Marsa Alam (مرسى علم)
Moulhoule (مول هولة )
Safaga (ميناء سفاجا)
Sudan (بورت سودان)
Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh (شرم الشيخ)
Soma Bay (سوما باي)
* Taba (طابا)
MS al-Salam Boccaccio 98 ferry disaster
Red Sea Dam
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* ^ "Red Sea". Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition.
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* ^ Smithsonianjourneys.org
* ^ Schmitt 1996
* ^ "Arabia". World Digital Library. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
* ^ Michael D. Oblath (2004).
The Exodus itinerary sites: their
locations from the perspective of the biblical sources. Peter Lang. p.
53. ISBN 978-0-8204-6716-0 .
* ^ Herodotus, ed. George Rawlinson (2009), The histories, p.105
* ^ Andrew E. Hill, John H. Walton (2000), A survey of the Old
* ^ Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe (2006). Pathfinders: A Global History
of Exploration. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 24. ISBN 0-393-06259-7 .
* ^ Louis, Jaucourt de chevalier (1765). Red Sea. pp. 367–368.
* ^ Tafsir, Saadia Gaon, s.v. Exodus 15:22, et al.
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* ^ Egyptian Dust Plume, Red Sea
BBC 2 television program "Oceans 3/8 The Red Sea", 8 pm - 9 pm
Wednesday 26 November 2008
* ^ \'Virus protects coral from \'white plague\',\' at New
Scientist , 7 July 2012.p.17.
* ^ Degens, Egon T. (ed.), 1969, Hot Brines and Recent Heavy Metal
Deposits in the Red Sea, 600 pp, Springer-Verlag
* ^ MSNBC (accessed 29 December 2011)
* ^ Israel, Brett (December 28, 2011). "New Island Rises in the Red
Sea". LiveScience.com. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
* ^ Oskin, Becky; SPACE.com (May 30, 2015). "
Red Sea Parts for 2
New Islands". Scientific American. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
* ^ A B Froese, Ranier; Pauly, Daniel (2009). "FishBase". Retrieved
* ^ Siliotti, A. (2002). Verona, Geodia, ed. Fishes of the red sea.
ISBN 88-87177-42-2 .
* ^ Lieske, E. and Myers, R.F. (2004)
Coral reef guide; Red Sea
London, HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-715986-2
* ^ Mabrook, B. "Environmental Impact of Waste
Brine Disposal of
Desalination Plants, Red Sea, Egypt", Desalination, 1994, Vol.97,
* ^ Scuba Diving in
Egypt - The Red Sea: Holidays in Sharm El
Sheikh, Hurghada, The Brothers,
Daedalus Reef and St. John\'s -
Liveaboard and Day Trips
* ^ Barth, Hans-Jörg (2002).
Sabkha ecosystems, Volume 2.
Springer. p. 148. ISBN 1-4020-0504-0 .
* ^ Makinda, Samuel M. (1987). Superpower diplomacy in the Horn of
Africa. Routledge. p. 37. ISBN 0-7099-4662-7 .
* Hamblin, W. Kenneth & Christiansen, Eric H. (1998). Earth's
Dynamic Systems (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall. ISBN
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* Potts, D., R. Talbert, T.