The Stunning Red Sea
By: Cara Zanta/Arab America Contributing Writer
Located between the coast of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the Red Sea is a destination that brings together beautiful landscapes, adventure, and cultural heritage. The Red Sea is the northernmost tropical sea in the world, containing 25 islands. Some of these islands include Zabargad, Giftun, Islands of Brother, and Rocky. Another unique thing about the Red Sea, though, is that some of these islands are new. The newest island formed in 2013.
The sea borders Saudi Arabia and Yemen on its eastern side. To its western side is Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt, and Sudan. The Red Sea is immensely valuable to its region strategically. Today, 20% of the global trade pass through it. Most of the maritime trade, approximately 700 billion dollars annually, pass through this body of water.
There are no natural rivers to infuse the Red Sea with fresh water, therefore the narrow body of water is one of the most saline bodies of water in the world. It is 35% saltier than most seas.
The Red Sea is known to have amazing health benefits. If you ever get the chance take a dive into the water, its healing effects include improvement of blood circulation and reducing skin inflammation due to the high level of salt.
The Red Sea has been used for commerce since ancient Egyptian times. After the opening of the Suez canal in 1869, the body of water has been used as the key trade route between Europe and Asia, using Egypt to connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Today this passage remains one of the most regularly used trade routes.
The Red Sea was also crucial for the development in Egypt for irrigation systems, as their survival was dependent on their proximity to water. With a combination of fresh water from the Nile river and salt water from the Red Sea for fishing, Egyptians maintained healthy diets year round.
There are a couple of theories surrounding the origin behind the captivating title of the “Red Sea.” Some believe there is a type of algae that shifts the water from crystal blue to a deep orangish red. Some speculate the name derives from the Egyptian desert, which was once known as the “Red Land.”
Life Under The Red Sea
The Red Sea has made itself known for its colorful corals and rich aquatic life, all while being surrounded by beautiful palm tree beaches. There are many hotels on the beaches along the coast of the Red Sea. This is why we are seeing countries such as Sudan and Saudi Arabia coming together to establish a research center to protect all the beautiful amenities the Red Sea offers to the world.
The relatively narrow sea is surrounded by countries and people who are directly dependent on the well-being of coral reefs.
The widespread biodiversity can be contributed to the seas coral reef ecosystem, which are over 7,000 years old in some parts, and stretch up to 1,240 miles along the coastline. In the Red Sea, there are at least 1,200 different species of fish (one is the fastest fish in the world, which swims at 68 miles per hour) and 44 species of sharks. About 20% of the species in the Red Sea do not exist anywhere else in the world.
Coral reefs, home to millions of marine species in the Red Sea, are facing threats. Species are dying due to global climate change and pollution. IHuman activities such as agriculture, urbanization, and coastal infrastructure can contribute to the species dying.
The new research being done on the Red Sea aims to protect and monitor the coral reefs by studying their health, biodiversity, and researching the human activity along with the shoes of the Red Sea. The bordering countries of this glorious body of water are taking action to preserve its natural resources. In Egypt, the Egyptian government protects the Red Sea as part of the Ras Mohammed National Park.
It is also a traveler’s destination hot spot, as the temperatures are warm year round. Even in December, the temperature is an average of 66 degrees Fahrenheit. The rich variety of its underwater eco-system makes it desirable for scuba diving and snorkeling. The Sea is also a place for travelers to easily experience floating on it due to the high saline concentration.
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