The Red Sea

A hilly stretch of Red Sea coastline.

5. Description

The Red Sea is a seawater inlet that lies between Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. The connection to the Indian Ocean lies in the south from Bab el Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden. It is a Global 200 Ecoregion, and underlying its expanse is the Great Sea Rift, making it a part of the Great Rift Valley. The surface area of the Red Sea is around 400,000 square kilometers, and it is 2,250 kilometers long and 355 kilometers wide at its greatest extents. It has a depth of 490 meters, and extensive areas of shallow shelves, corals, and diverse marine life.

4. Historical Role

The expeditions to the area conducted in around 2,500 BC, the Biblical Books tells the tales of Israelites that crossed the river water body, and the Hebrew text named it Yam Suph. From the northern end of the Red Sea and Nile River, there was a canal built at Suez. There are many accounts of the death of the Egyptian Army reported by drowning in the Red Sea. Many discoveries made from the year 1978 to 1987 in which the remains of chariot wheels, humans and horse bones found in the depths of the Sea. The Red Sea became the favorite route for the Romans to carry out trade with India and the goods from India exported through China to the Romans. Many canals built over the Red Sea did not last longer but the Suez Canal opened in November of 1869. However, due to the Six Day War, it remained closed from 1967 to 1975.

3. Modern Significance

Many commercial endeavors are being carried out in the Red Sea in connection with oil exploration. There are five major types of mineral resources found here namely the evaporate deposits like gypsum, dolomite and halite, phosphates, sulfur, heavy metal deposits, and sulfur. Nations that are along the Red Sea exploited the oil and natural gas deposits. The area is famous for the recreational activities as many tourists come to the area to enjoy diving at the sites like Ras Mohammed, Elphinstone Ref, St. John’s Reef, The Brothers, and Rocky Island in Egypt, etc. Famous resorts in the area include the Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Safaga, Dahab, and Taba.

2. Habitat and Biodiversity

In the rich ecosystems of the Red Sea, there are 1,200 species of fishes found within, and 42 of these are deepwater fishes. The coral reefs that are 5,000 to 7,000 years old form the stony acropora and porites corals under the water. The 44 species of shark visits the area and even the Red Sea fish. Other marine habitats in the Red Sea include the sea grass, salt marshes, mangroves, and salt pans.

1. Environmental Threats and Territorial Disputes

The Red Sea shares marine waters with the countries like Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Sudan, so the urban expansion, tourism, and industrial development is on the rise especially the work of oil exploration is carried out widely. There were reports of many cases of terrorist attack in the years 2000 and 2002. Even the environment is degrading because of the fish breeding industry that is disrupting the marine life, and the phosphate port settles on coral reefs and the seabed, which causes threats to the environment and human health as well.


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