The Red Sea is one of the four seas present on this Earth that have been named after colors. In this write-up on Red Sea facts, we are going to learn about the sea’s location, oceanography, ecosystem, history and much more. So, without further ado, let us begin…
Red Sea Facts: 1-5
1. The Red Sea is also called the Erythrean Sea. It is an inlet (shoreline’s indention which is mostly long and narrow and leads to a seawater body) of the Indian Ocean. It is present between Africa and Asia.
2. The Red Sea is connected to the Indian Ocean through Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. The Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Suez (which leads to the Suez Canal) and the Gulf of Aqaba are present towards the north side of the Red Sea.
3. The Red Sea borders many countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Israel (eastern side) and Eritrea, Egypt, Sudan and Djibouti (on the western side).
4. Length of the Red Sea is 1,400 miles or 2,250 kilometers. It has a width of 221 miles and 355 kilometers (widest point of the Red Sea).
5. It has a surface area of 169,100 square miles or 438,000 square kilometers. The volume of the water of the Red Sea is about 56,000 cubic miles or 233,000 cubic kilometers.
Red Sea Facts: 6-10
6. The average depth of the Red Sea is 1,610 feet or 490 meters. Suakin Trough is the deepest point of the Red Sea with the depth of 9,970 feet or 3,040 meters. But, nearly 40% of the Red Sea is shallow (below 330 feet or 100 meters) and 25% of the sea has a depth of mere 164 feet or 50 meters. Only 15% of the sea is above 3,300 feet or 1000 meters deep.
7. Many marine lifeforms and corals are seen in these shallow regions of the Red Sea. 200 hard and soft corals and over a thousand invertebrate species can be found in the sea.
8. The origin of the word the Red Sea is from the Greek words Erythra Thalassa. The sea is named after the Red color because of the seasonal blossoms of red-colored cyanobacterium called Trichodesmium erythraeum, present near the surface of the water.
9. Some other modern scholars believe that Red denotes south direction just as Black denotes north direction in the case of Black Sea. This theory’s base is that the Asiatic languages use names of the colors to denote directions.
10. During the ancient times, the Red Sea was known as Mare Mecca i.e. Sea of Mecca and Gulf of Arabia or Sinus Arabicus.
Red Sea Facts: 11-15
11. Egyptians were believed to be the first explorers of the Red Sea. This dates back to 2500 BCE and 1500 BCE. In the 6th century BCE, Darius of Persia built a canal from the Nile to the Suez (Red Sea’s northern end). Alexander the Great used the Red Sea to send military expeditions into the Indian Ocean.
Periplus of the Erythrean Sea gives extreme details about the Red Sea and its ports and routes. It also mentions of Hippalus (Greek navigator) who found a direct route to India via the Red Sea. Romans used the Red Sea for trade purposes.
13. In the middle ages, the Red Sea was used for the spice trade. Suez Canal was opened in 1869. It was closed again from 1967 to 1975. 7.5% of the world’s sea trade goes through the canal (as of 2015 data).
14. Red Sea waters get exchanged with the waters of Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea via the Gulf of Aden. The Red Sea is one of the saltiest seas of the world because of its high evaporation. Owing to its high surface temperatures, it is one of the warmest seas of the world.
15. In summers the temperature of the Red Sea is about 26 °C or 79 °F (north side) and 30 °C or 86 °F (south side). The temperature decreases only by 2 °C or 3.6 °F in winters. Overall temperature is 22 °C or 72 °F. Rainfall is extremely low here.
Red Sea Facts: 16-20
16. The salinity of the Red Sea (average is 4% – 3.6% in south and 4.1% in north side) is higher than the world average (3.5%) because there is high evaporation but very less precipitation, no rivers to empty themselves in the Red Sea and less connection with the Indian Ocean.
17. Low tides of heights 2 to 3 feet are seen on the north and south sides and it can be said that there are almost no tides in the central Red Sea.
18. The Red Sea was formed when Arabia split from the Horn of Africa by Red Sea Rift. This rift was started in the Eocene (56 to 34 million years ago) and increased its pace in Oligocene (34 to 23 million years ago).
19. The Red Sea is still widening. If the model of John Tuzo Wilson is to be believed, Red Sea may turn into an ocean.
20. During Tertiary period, the Bab el Mandeb closed down and the Red Sea evaporated completely, leaving behind what is called as a dry and hot sink with a salt floor. Many volcanic islands are seen in Central Red Sea and near Bab el Mandeb. Two new islands were formed (in 2011 and 2013) which are owned by Yemen. These islands are formed in Zubair Archipelago.
Red Sea Facts: 21-25
21. There are many mineral resources found in the Red Sea like dolomite, gypsum, siderite, pyrite, etc.
22. 1,200 fish species live in the Red Sea and 10% of them are endemic (exclusively found in a particular place and nowhere else). 1,240 miles or 2000 kilometers of coral reef is seen along the shores of the Red Sea on the eastern side. They are nearly 5000 to 7000 years old and are visited by some of the fishes of the Red Sea which includes 44 species of shark.
23. These offshore reef formations are not in line with the classic or Darwinian coral reef formation. The formation of the coral reefs is credited to the tectonic activities of the area.
24. There are many desalination plants along the shore of Red Sea to meet the water demands of the population there. Water from the Red Sea is also used as a moderator in cement factories and oil refineries.
25. It is one of the favorite diving spots in the world. It has diving sites like Daedalus Reef, Elphinstone Reef, Rocky Island etc. Famous resorts for tourists are Safaga, Dahab, Taba, El Gouna etc.
Red Sea Facts: 26-30
26. Red Sea is considered as Global 200 ecoregion (ecoregions of the world listed by WWF for preservation). Red Sea’s northern side has been named as one of the seven wonders of the underwater world, thanks to its beauty and biodiversity.
28. It is the northernmost tropical sea in the world.
29. Did you know that Napoleon, in the year 1798, tried to control the Red Sea and conquer Egypt but failed?
30. There are 25 islands in the Red Sea. Some of them are Zabargad, Giftun, Islands of Brother, Rocky etc.