- Red Sea
The Red Sea is a
salt water inletof the Indian Oceanbetween Africaand Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandebsound and the Gulf of Aden. In the north are the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez(leading to the Suez Canal). The Red Sea is a Global 200ecoregion. The Red Sea was also historically known as the Arabian Gulf, although recently Pan-Arabist nationalists sought to change the Persian Gulf's name to the Arabian Gulf.
Occupying a part of the
Great Rift Valley, the Red Sea has a surface area of about 438,000 km² (169,100 square miles ). It is roughly 2250 km (1398 mi) long and, at its widest point at 355 km (220.6 miles) wide. It has a maximum depth of 2211 m (7254 ft) in the central median trench and an average depth of 490 m (1,608 feet ), but there are also extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. The sea is the habitat of over 1,000 invertebratespecies and 200 soft and hard corals and is the world's northernmost tropical sea.
Red Sea is a direct translation of the Greek "Erythra Thalassa" (polytonic|Ερυθρά Θάλασσα),
Latin"Mare Rubrum", Arabic Unicode|"Al-Baḥr Al-Aḥmar" (البحر الأحمر), and Tigrinya "Qeyyiḥ bāḥrī" (ቀይሕ ባሕሪ).
The name of the sea may signify the seasonal blooms of the red-coloured
cyanobacteria"Trichodesmium erythraeum" near the water's surface. [cite web |url= http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-9106296 |title= Red Sea | accessdate=2008-01-14 | work= Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition |publisher= Encyclopædia Britannica] Some suggest that it refers to the mineral-rich red mountains nearby which are called Harei Edom (הרי אדום). " Edom", meaning "ruddy complexion", is also an alternative Hebrew name for the red-faced biblical character Esau(brother of Jacob), and the nation descended from him, the Edomites, which in turn provides yet another possible origin for "Red Sea".Fact|date=February 2007
Another hypothesis is that the name comes from the
Himyarite, a local group whose own name means "red".Fact|date=February 2007
Yet another theory favored by some modern scholars is that the name "red" is referring to the direction south, the same way 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 directionscite web|url = http://www.colorsystem.com/projekte/engl/63chie.htm|title = Cardinal colors in Chinese tradition|accessdate = 2008-09-25] . Herodotuson one occasion uses Red Sea and Southern Sea interchangeably. [Schmitt 1996]
A final theory suggests that it was named so because it borders the Egyptian Desert which the
ancient Egyptians called the "Dashret" or "red land"; therefore it would have been the sea of the red land.Fact|date=February 2007
The association of the Red Sea with the Biblical account of the Israelite Crossing of the Red Sea is ancient, and was made explicit in the
Septuaginttranslation of the book of Exodusfrom Hebrewinto Koine Greek in approximately the third century B.C. In that version, the Hebrew " Yam Suph" (ים סוף) is translated as "Erythra Thalassa" (Red Sea). (See also the more recent suggestion that the "Yam Suph" of the Exodus refers to a Sea of Reeds).
The earliest known exploration expeditions of the Red Sea were conducted by
Ancient Egyptians seeking to establish commercial routes to Punt. One such expedition took place around 2500 BC and another around 1500 BC. Both involved long voyages down the Red Sea. [cite book |last= Fernandez-Armesto |first= Felipe |title= Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration |year= 2006 |publisher= W.W. Norton & Company |isbn= 0-393-06259-7 |pages= p. 24]
The Biblical book of
Exodustells the story of the Israelites' miraculous crossing of a body of water which the Hebrew text calls " Yam Suph," traditionally identified as the Red Sea. The account is part of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt, and is (For another possible translation of "Yam Suph," see Sea of Reeds.)
In the 6th century BC Darius I 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 the
Nileand the northern end of the Red Sea at Suez. In the late 4th century BC Alexander the Greatsent Greek naval expeditions down the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. Greek navigators continued to explore and compile data on the Red Sea. Agatharchidescollected information about the sea in the 2nd century BC. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, written sometime around the 1st century AD, contain a detailed description of the Red Sea's ports and sea routes. [cite book |last= Fernandez-Armesto |first= Felipe |title= Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration |year= 2006 |publisher= W.W. Norton & Company |isbn= 0-393-06259-7 |pages= pp. 32-33] The Periplus also describes how Hippalusfirst discovered the direct route from the Red Sea to India.
The Red Sea was favored for
Roman trade with Indiastarting with the reign of Augustus, when the Roman Empiregained control over the Mediterranean, 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 Empirearound the 3rd century AD. [cite book |last= East |first= W. Gordon |title= The Geography behind History |year= 1965 |publisher= W.W. Norton & Company |isbn= 0-393-00419-8 |pages= pp. 174-175]
During medieval times the Red Sea was an important part of the
Francecharged General Bonapartewith invading Egypt and capturing the Red Sea. Although he failed in his mission, the engineer J.B. Lepere, 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, but none lasted for long. The Suez Canalwas 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, the Americans and Soviets exerted their influence whilst the volume of oil tanker traffic intensified. However, the Six Day Warculminated in the closure of the Suez Canal 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 less vulnerable.
The Red Sea lies between arid land,
desertand semi-desert. The main reasons for the better development of reef systems along the Red Sea is because of its greater depths and an efficient water circulation pattern, The Red Sea water mass exchanges its water with the Arabian Sea, Indian Oceanvia the Gulf of Aden. These physical factors reduce the effect of high salinity caused by evaporation and cold water in the north and relatively hot water in the south.
climateof the Red Sea is the result of two distinct monsoon seasons; a northeasterly monsoon and a southwesterly monsoon. Monsoon winds occur because of the differential heating between the land surface and sea. Very high surface temperatures coupled with high salinities makes this one of the hottest and saltiest bodies of seawater in the world. The average surface water temperature of the Red Sea during the summer is about convert|26|C|F|0|lk=on in the north and convert|30|C|F|0| in the south, with only about 2 °C (3.6 °F) variation during the winter months. The overall average water temperature is convert|22|C|F|0|. The rainfallover the Red Sea and its coasts is extremely low averaging convert|0.06|m|in|2|abbr=on per year; the rain is mostly in the form of showers of short spells often associated with thunderstorms and occasionally with dust storms. The scarcity of rainfall and no major source of fresh water to the Red Sea result in the excess evaporation as high as convert|205|cm|in|0|abbr=on per year and high salinity with minimal seasonal variation.
Salinity: The Red Sea is one of the most saline water bodies in the world, due to the effects of the water circulation pattern, resulting from evaporation and wind stress. Salinity ranges between 3.6 and 3.8%.
Tidal range: In general tide ranges between convert|0.6|m|ft|1|abbr=on in the north, near the mouth of the Gulf of Suez and convert|0.9|m|ft|1|abbr=on in the south near the Gulf of Aden but it fluctuates between convert|0.20|m|ft|2|abbr=on and convert|0.30|m|ft|2|abbr=on away from the nodal point. The central Red Sea (Jeddah area) 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 meters rather than inundating 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 convert|3|km|mi|0|abbr=on whereas, north of Jeddah in the Al-kharrar area the sabkhas are covered by a thin sheet of water as far as convert|2|km|mi|1|abbr=on. The prevailing north and northeastern winds influence the movement of water in the coastal inlets to the adjacent sabkhas, especially during storms. Winter mean sea level is convert|0.5|m|ft|1|abbr=on 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). Current: In the 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 convert|0.5|m|ft|1|abbr=on and are governed mostly by wind. In 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 into the Red Sea. The net value of the latter predominates, resulting in an overall drift to the northern 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 convert|1|m/s|ft|1|abbr=on. at the mouth of the al-Kharrar Lagoon. However, the range of north-northeast current along the Saudi coast is 8-29 cm/s (3–11.4 in/s).
Wind Regime: With the exception of the northern part of the Red Sea, which is dominated by persistent north-west
winds, with speeds ranging between convert|7|km/h|mph|1|abbr=on and convert|12|km/h|mph|1|abbr=on., the rest of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Adenare subjected to the influence of regular and seasonally reversible winds. The wind regimeis characterized by both seasonal and regional variations in speedand direction with average speed generally increasing northward.
Wind is the driving force in the Red Sea for transporting the material either as suspension or as bedload. Wind induced currents play an important role in the Red Sea in initiating the process of resuspension of bottom sediments and transfer of materials from sites of dumping to sites of burial in quiescent environment of deposition. Wind generated current
measurementis 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.
The Red Sea formed by
Arabiasplitting from Africadue to plate tectonics. This split started in the Eoceneand accelerated during the Oligocene. The sea is still widening and it is considered that the sea will become an ocean in time (as proposed in the model of John Tuzo Wilson).
Sometime during the
Tertiaryperiod the Bab el Mandebclosed and the Red Sea evaporated to an empty hot dry salt-floored sink. Effects causing this would be:-
*A "race" between the Red Sea widening and
Perim Islanderupting filling the Bab el Mandeb with lava.
*The lowering of world
sea levelduring the Ice Ages due to much water being locked up in the ice caps.
Today surface water temperatures remain relatively constant at 21–25 °C (70–77 °F) and temperature and visibility remain good to around 200 m (656 ft), but the sea is known for its strong winds and unpredictable local currents.
In terms of salinity, the Red Sea is greater than the world average, approximately 4 percent. This is due to several factors: 1) high rate of evaporation and very little precipitation, 2) a lack of significant rivers or streams draining into the sea, and 3) limited connection with the Indian Ocean (and its lower water salinity).
A number of volcanic islands rise from the center of the sea. Most are dormant, but in 2007,
Jabal al-Tair islanderupted violently.
The Red Sea is a rich and diverse
ecosystem. More than 1100 species of fishFishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly] have been recorded in the Red Sea, and around 10% of these are found nowhere else. [Siliotti, A. (2002) "fishes of the red sea" Verona, Geodia ISBN 88-87177-42-2] This also includes around 75 species of deepwater fish. The rich diversity is in part due to the convert|2000|km|mi|-1|abbr=on of coral reefextending along its coastline; these fringing reefs are 5000-7000 years old and are largely formed of stony acroporaand poritescorals. 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 pelagicspecies of red sea fish, including some of the 44 species of shark.
biodiversityof the area is recognised by the Egyptian government, who set up the Ras Mohammed National Park in 1983. The rules and regulations governing this area protect local wildlife, which has become a major draw for tourists, in particular for diving enthusiasts.
snorkellers should be aware that although most Red Sea species are innocuous, a few are hazardous to humans.Lieske, E. and Myers, R.F. (2004) "Coral reef guide; Red Sea" London, HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-715986-2]
Other marine habitats include
sea grassbeds, salt pans, mangroves and salt marshes.
In terms of mineral resources the major constituents of the Red Sea sediments are as follows:
*Biogenic constituents: :Nannofossils,
foraminifera, pteropods, siliceous fossils
Tuffites, volcanic ash, montmorillonite, cristobalite, zeolites
Quartz, feldspars, rock fragments, mica, heavy minerals, clay minerals
Sulfide minerals, aragonite, Mg- calcite, protodolomite, dolomite, quartz, chalcedony.
Magnesite, gypsum, anhydrite, halite, polyhalite
goethite, hematite, siderite, rhodochrosite, pyrite, sphalerite, anhydrite.
There is extensive demand of desalinated water to meet the requirement 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 may cause bleaching and mortality of corals and diseases to the fish stocks. Although this is only a localized phenomenon, it may intensify with time and have a profound impact on the fishing industry.
The water from the Red Sea is also utilized by oil refineries and cement factories for cooling purposes. Used water drained back into the coastal zones may cause harm to the nearshore environment of the Red Sea.
Facts and figures at a glance
:* Length: ~convert|2250|km|mi|1|abbr=on - 79% of the eastern Red Sea with numerous coastal inlets:* Maximum Width: ~ 306–355 km (190–220 mi)– Massawa (Eritrea):* Minimum Width: ~ 26–29 km (16–18 mi)-
Bab el MandebStrait (Yemen):* Average Width: ~ convert|280|km|mi|1|abbr=on:* Average Depth: ~ convert|490|m|ft|1|abbr=on:* Maximum Depth: ~convert|2211|m|ft|1|abbr=on:* 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 convert|50|m|ft|0|abbr=on deep.:* About 15% of the Red Sea is over convert|1000|m|ft|-2|abbr=on 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 ~convert|500|m|ft|0|abbr=on|disp=/):* Centre of Red Sea has a narrow trough (~ convert|1000|m|ft|0|abbr=on|disp=/; some deeps may exceed convert|2500|m|ft|0|abbr=on|disp=/)
ome of the research cruises in the Red Sea
Numerous research cruises have been conducted:
:*Arabia Felix (1761-1767):*Vitiaz (1886-1889):*Valdivia (1898-1894):*Pola (1897-98) Southern Red Sea and (1895/96 – Northern Red Sea :*Ammiraglio Magnaghi (1923/24):*Snellius (1929 –1930):*Mabahiss (1933-1934 and 1934-1935):*Albatross (1948):*Manihine (1849 and 1952):*Calypso (1955):*Atlantis and Vema (1958):*Xarifa (1961):*Meteor (1961):*Glomar Challenger (1971):*Sonne (1997):*Meteor (1999)
The sea is known for its spectacular
recreational divingsites, such as Ras Mohammed, SS Thistlegorm(shipwreck), Elphinstone, The Brothers, Dolphin Reefand Rocky Islandin Egyptand less known sites in Sudansuch as Sanganeb, Abington, Angaroshand Shaab Rumi(see photo above).
The Red Sea became known a sought-after diving destination after the expeditions of
Hans Hassin the 1950s, and later by Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Popular tourist resorts include El Gouna, Hurghada, Safaga, Marsa Alam, on the western shore of the Red Sea, and Sharm-El-Sheikh, Dahab, and Tabaon the Egyptian side of Sinaï, as well as Eilat, in Israelin an area known as the Red Sea Riviera.
Tourism in the South of Red Sea is presently considered risky because of the presence of pirates originating from uncontrolled zones of
Somalia. Large vessels such as cargoes are sometimes attacked by high-speed boats heavily armed. The situation is even worse in the Gulf of Aden between Somaliaand Yemen.
Bordering countries are:
* Northern shore:
* Western shore:
* Eastern shore:
* Southern shore:
Towns and cities
Towns and cities on the Red Sea coast include:
Marsa Alam(مرسى علم)
Port Safaga(ميناء سفاجا)
Port Sudan(بورت سودان)
Sharm el Sheikh(شرم الشيخ)
Soma Bay(سوما باي)
* El Suweis (السويس)
* Taba (طابا)
* ferry disaster
Passage of the Red Sea
Red Sea dam
Red Sea Riviera
*Hamblin, W. Kenneth, and Eric H. Christiansen. "Earth's Dynamic Systems", 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-13-745373-6
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RED SEA — (Heb. יַם סוּף, yam suf; lit. Sea of Reeds ). The Hebrew term yam suf denotes, in some biblical references and in most later sources, the sea known as the Red Sea (as in Gr. ʾΕρυθρἁ θάλασσα; Lat. Sinus Arabicus, Mare Rubrum; Ar. Baḥr or al Baḥr… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Red Sea — • The north west arm of the Indian Ocean, some 1400 miles long and lying between Arabia on the east and Africa on the west Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Red Sea Red Sea … Catholic encyclopedia
Red Sea — the Red Sea a sea which separates Egypt, the Sudan, and Ethiopia from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It is joined to the Mediterranean Sea by the ↑Suez Canal, and is used by many ships. According to the story in the Old Testament of the Bible, God made… … Dictionary of contemporary English
Red Sea — sea between NE Africa & W Arabia, connected with the Mediterranean Sea by the Suez Canal & with the Indian Ocean by the Gulf of Aden: c. 1,400 mi (2,253 km) long: c. 174,900 sq mi (452,989 sq km) … English World dictionary
Red Sea — Red′ Sea′ n. geg an arm of the Indian Ocean, extending NW between Africa and Arabia: connected to the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal. 1450 mi. (2335 km) long; 170,000 sq. mi. (440,300 sq. km) … From formal English to slang
Red Sea — an arm of the Indian Ocean, extending NW between Africa and Arabia: connected to the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal. 1450 mi. (2335 km) long; 170,000 sq. mi. (440,300 sq. km); greatest depth, 7254 ft. (2211 m). * * * Narrow inland sea between… … Universalium
Red Sea — The sea so called extends along the west coast of Arabia for about 1,400 miles, and separates Asia from Africa. It is connected with the Indian Ocean, of which it is an arm, by the Strait of Bab el Mandeb. At a point (Ras Mohammed) about 200… … Easton's Bible Dictionary
Red Sea FC — Football club infobox clubname = Red Sea fullname = Red Sea Football Clube nickname = founded = ground = Cicero Stadium Asmara, Eritrea capacity = 10,000 chairman = manager = league = Eritrean Premier League season = 2006/07 position = Red Sea is … Wikipedia
Red Sea — The sea which divides Africa from Arabia, and always an important trade route. Solomon kept a naval force at Eziongeber (1 Kgs. 9:26–8; 10:11, 22) more successfully than Jehoshaphat (1 Kgs. 22:48), whose ships were wrecked there. The ‘Red Sea’… … Dictionary of the Bible
Red Sea — Admin ASC 1 Code Orig. name Red Sea Country and Admin Code SD.36 SD … World countries Adminstrative division ASC I-II