Egypt has world class diving, but how many of the ten best have you dived?
From now until April is the best time to visit Thailand's Andaman sea for some amazing diving.
From the South Atlantic to the Indian Ocean: dolphin, marlin, sharks, humpback whales, sardine and squid runs plus spectacular corals - South Africa has it all.
"An easy dive that starts with a coral canyon into the middle of the reef where there is a spectacular coral garden still relatively unspoilt. You exit the garden onto the opposite side of the reef where there is a sandy bottom with a number of coral pinnacles full of life, then to cap it all you arrive at the wreck of a sailing yacht! Carry on following the reef past the wreck and you arrive back at the start. A very picturesque and easy dive, max depth is 20ish mt around the base of the pinnacles the rest is shallower 15-18 mt"
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Not just any old sponge that is a bit tedious, but the Red Boring Sponge.
It's called the boring sponge as it drills into coral and sea shells. The sponge breaks down dead and diseased (and sometimes live) coral. It extends thread-like etching cells into its host and chips off bits of calcium carbonate, expelling them through its pores. Over time the sponges create little tunnels beneath them.
In "normal" conditions they play an important part in the reef, recycling calcium carbonate. But if the coral is struggling due to high water temperatures, acidification or pollution, the boring sponges can erode the reef faster than the corals can replace it.
Sponges are very simple animals. They have no digestive, nervous or circulatory systems. Symbiotic zooxanthellae (dinoflagellates) living in the sponge tissue photosynthesise and provide the sponge with nutrition.
Not only is the red boring sponge not so boring, it isn't always red either. You often see them is shades through orange to yellow.
You find this boring sponge around the World: North Sea, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic and Pacific, in depths below 10 m.
Phylum: Porifera > Class: Demospongiae > Order: Hadromerida > Family: Clionaidae > Pione: Platax > Species: Pione vastifica
Worms Register of Marine Species, accessed 19 October 2022.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility, accessed 19 October 2022.
Davis Invertebrates, accessed 19 October 2022.
Chemical versus mechanical bioerosion of coral reefs by boring sponges - lessons from Pione cf. vastifica, A. Zundelevich et al, J Exp Biol (2007) 210 (1): 91-96.
It's the peak time to go to Palau as heavy currents draw in pelagic species such as mantas, many sharks and sea turtles. And you can now get 20% off!
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Photo credits: Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme, Kristin Riser, Jianye Sui
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