This is another catch-up post, written in July 2022, to describe the first post-worthy adventure in my life. In July and August 1989, a team of six SCUBA divers, based at Cambridge University, set out to investigate the effects of oil pollution on the coral reefs of the Gulf of Suez. The results were presented to an International Forum of Exploration and Production Oil Companies investigating safety and environmental issues within the industry, held in Cairo in December 1989.
The team consisted of Karen Wild, Rob Cooper, Adrian Surtees, Emmeline Rogers, Jon Cheal, and me. After nearly a year of fundraising and preparation, the team drove the expedition Land Rover “Perky” from the UK over the Alps to Venice, Italy from where they took a ferry to Alexandria in Northern Egypt. Twenty-six sites were examined in the Gulf of Suez, which runs from the southern entrance to the Suez Canal down to the Red Sea, on the western side of the Sinai Peninsula. The expedition report is attached (PDF and OCR), as is Karen’s Scientific Report (PDF and OCR).
Below are some of my favourite photos from the expedition followed by galleries of photos by categories. The photos were taken by all expedition members. This trip gave me my first taste of adventure which has continued ever since.
Galleries of Photos. Click on a photo to make it bigger.
A company generously transported equipment for us, which we collated at my parents’ house. Then we drove the Land Rover over the alps to Venice to take the ferry to Alexandria.
We had to spend a bit of time in Cairo, which allowed some tourist activities as well as getting accustomed to the culture.
The key enabler of the whole expedition was Bertha the Land Rover. Over many months and with much assistance from sponsors, Adrian had built this from scratch. It included an air compressor, powered by the Land Rover’s engine, and worked extremely well for the whole trip. We were also lent Bertha the Suburban by an in-country sponsor. Bertha constantly gave us problems, at times burning more oil than fuel, but Adrian kept her alive.
Even above the water, we were treated to tremendous views as we camped in the desert for six weeks.
However, evidence of previous oil spills was clear with deep tar on the beach.
We met a tremendous variety of people who were very friendly and generous. These photos show us in a variety of mental states, illustrating the challenges during extended field work.
We spent a lot of time underwater with much of it performing scientific surveys.
The underwater life was amazing. Photos don’t do it justice, and we were not skilled underwater photographers. Anyhow, this was our attempt.
All good things have to end, and this included driving back across Europe. We unfortunately had an accident, but it wasn’t too bad. Getting invited back to present the results to the oil companies was a privilege.
2 thoughts on “Gulf of Suez Reef Survey 1989”
Love reading your blog. As an avid scuba diver and hiker I find your expeditions quite enjoyable.
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