Ras Mohamed National Park
The National Park at Ras Mohamed was the first Egyptian National Park to be declared in 1983. The protected area was then 97 km2; it has since grown to an area of 480 km2 and includes marine and terrestrial areas at the Ras Mohamed Peninsula and the island of Tiran, as well as all shorelines to the highest annual tide between the main Sharm El Sheikh harbour and the southern boundary of the Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area.
The Park is notable for its sharply defined raised fossil coral platforms which represent ancient shorelines. These reefs range in age from 15,000 to 2,000,000 years BP (before present). The more recent fossil reefs show similar species composition and structure to present day coral reefs. Recognisable species include: Goniastrea splendens, Galaxeea splendens, Porites splendens and others. Fossil reefs, like modern reefs, were also habitats for a profusion of life seen as fossil remains in the Park.
Studies of fossil coral reefs provide scientists with valuable insights regarding past climatic conditions, changing sea levels and the effect of these on coral reef ecosystems.
Coral reefs in the National Park present the visitor with a breathtaking experience. The profusion of life can at times overpower the senses of the first time visitor, but on the reef there is order. Close and careful observation will enable even the uninitiated to identify the more obvious relationships.
All organisms on the reef have particular adaptations related to their feeding behaviour. Damselfish tend their patches of seaweed, defending these with vigour. Parrotfish grind at the base of the corals to feed on algae. Then they excrete clouds of undigested carbonate which settles and helps to cement the reef. Cleaner wrasse are seen at work on larger fish such as groupers, rays, barracuda removing parasites from their mouths, gills and outer body. Sharks, barracuda, jacks, etc. come to the reef to feed on schools of reef fish.
The reef is a complex, often bewildering, ecosystem that once understood will provide endless hours of enjoynment. Careless use will destroy both the structure and ecological equilibrium of the reef. Careful use will ensure the survival of this ecosystem.