SCUBA News 267
(ISSN 1476-8011)

Welcome to SCUBA News. I hope you find it useful.

What's New at SCUBA Travel?

Hammerhead shark

10 Best Dives in Egypt

Egypt has world class diving, but how many of the ten best have you dived?

Harlequin shrimp on Richelieu Rock Thailand

Tantalising Thailand

From now until April is the best time to visit Thailand's Andaman sea for some amazing diving.

Marlin sailfish

Underwater in South Africa

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.

Angie Seamistress

Angieseamisstress Diving Guides

Independent Divemasters offering taylor-made diving packages in the Red Sea
Find out more...

Reader's recommended dive site: Abu Galawa Sotaya at Fury Shoals

"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"

Table coral and grouper
Grouper under table coral at Abu Galawa Soraya. Photo: JS

Tell us about your favourite dive site -

Boring sponge is creature of the month

Not just any old sponge that is a bit tedious, but the Red Boring Sponge.

Red boring sponge with anthias
Red Boring Sponges on coral reef. Stephan Kerkhofs/Depositphotos

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.

Red boring sponge, Dahab
Red Boring Sponge, Pione vastifica, Blue Hole, Dahab, Red Sea. Photo: JS

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.

Pelagics in Palau

Palau Siren liveaboard

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!


Diving news from around the World

fish and plastic

2022 Ocean Art Photo Competition now Open
Our friends at the Underwater Photography Guide have launched this year's Ocean Art contest, with the largest prize value ever. Fourteen categories, including a new mobile phone category, ensure all photo disciplines and cameras compete fairly.


Europe considers large-scale seaweed farming; environmental effects unknown
The European Commission is planning industrial farming of seaweed across the continent's shores, but how will it affect other sea life?


Tuna use sharks as back scratchers despite risk of being eaten
Large fish prefer to scrape against sharks over members of their own species, possibly to pry off parasites


Fish-feed industry turns to Antarctic krill, with unknown effects on the ecosystem
Independent scientists say the krill fishery could have a detrimental effect on Antarctica's predator populations, which are also suffering from the impacts of global warming.

fish and plastic

Little-Used conservation tool could help governments protect more of the ocean
Marine protected areas aren't the only way to protect and conserve our global ocean. Other effective area-based conservation measures could be a powerful means of improving ocean health.

Green Fins

Green Fins in Red Sea heads towards independence
Egypt's Chamber of Diving and Watersports is celebrating the first Green Fins trainers to complete the "Train the Trainer" programme in Africa and the Middle East Region.

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Photo credits: Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme, Kristin Riser, Jianye Sui

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