Saturday, 17 October 2009

Guido; Who do you think you are

Guido; Who do you think you are…………
It was midsummer 88 or 89, I was a low budget student trying to buy himself a boat dive in Sharm, I went with my mate Guevara El Gafy on Tentoria dive center boat to Ras Mohamed. There were several divers on the boat from various nationalities and along comes this man in his mid forties with his wife and an assistant looking like a well trained bodyguard carrying his diving bag and his 15 lt cylinders
Preparing for the first dive, his assistant with all the calm and efficacy in the world helped him out to kit up.
Back from the dive after the euphoria of Ras Mo for first time we had a chat with this man, all I remember was his smile as he gave us tips on how you handle Shark reef’s mad current by fining slowly as its pointless fining fast against current and try to get close to the reef, I still use this technique and share it with my buddies till today.
Mid summer 94 after 4 yrs of becoming a pro I was assigned as a dive guide on this big liveabored.
Chatting with the boss he told me that the main dive guide is a retired mega international businessman so fascinated by diving, that he sold his business and converted to scuba guiding.
Sounded a bit weird for me specially after I learned from my fellow dive guides who worked with this man how magical it is to go out with him to sea.
I met the guest a few minutes later, a scene I remember very well, a white jeep stopped in front of the jetty and the so called bodyguard carrying a dive bag and 15 lt cylinder came on to the boat followed by the magician with the smile.
“I remember you; you are the kid who came with Guevara al Gaffy to Ras Mo with us. Good to see you, are you my college in the trip??” He asked me with a bigger smile.
“I heard good things about you” (probably he just wanted to raise my morale).
We had American guests he explained to me later after dinner the nature of the American nation and how you should deal with them as a holiday maker followed by extremely profound stories during the time he used to export famous Egyptian textile to the states.
The very next day he was the first to rise and shine, his assistant fixed his coffee with lots of cream and 1 and half sugar and his cigarette.
My job was surface support and zodiac handling, then if we had the time he would take me to the secret dive, he promised. Secret dive, that’s what he thinks, I told myself as I went to do what I have to do
The group on board were famous videographers from the states who already did most of the famous sites around the globe; Maldives, Cocos island, gb reef, you name it!
As I picked them up by Zodiac after every dive all I saw was the big grin on their faces like you were picking up kids from Disneyland….
Last day totally unaware what kind of magic he spread below the surface, I got informed by his assistant to kit up, as Captain Guido will take you for a dive.
Again I tell myself “who does he think he is?”
The boat was moored in Shark observatory, we both jumped on the zodiac, him with his magical smile and me with a dull look…
The zodiac cruises north toward the ill garden which was a very normal dive for me.
Still keeping my dull face on. We started the dive to 20 mt, I looked at Guido to see the best underwater pace till this very moment heading off to the blue.
Starting to feel the Guido powerful groove before reaching 30 m, after few min in the blue looking ahead I witnessed the best view in the hemisphere; a wall of snappers bigger than china wall looking at my gauge! It was 40m coming around us; he is in a state as if he is praying in mekka.
Astonished by the best scenery of my life forgetting about my existence thinking of nothing, my head is as crystal clear as a Buddhist guru. Finally looking at my gauges, time to go though.
Looked at Guido as he surfaced toward the blue not toward the reef as we all do pointing up at 2 Oceanics having a tasty snappers as brunch from the famous ras Mohamed harvest.
Then all season I fought to keep my feet on the boat among Captain Guido
4 more weeks with Guido, halleluiah!
In the 1st week after 4 days in the straits of Tiran the guests are already astonished by Captain Guido under water magic in a nice full moon night moored in the white night waiting for dinner starting my evening with a cold beer, I went up on the upper deck to borrow a smoke from Captain Guido who I found looking at the blue dreaming, few minutes later without turning and looking at me he said kid go get the photographers (we had 4 pro photographers from Spain) and tell them we are going for an exhibition where they can shoot Mantas, I gazed at the moon reflection at the sea and saw nothing.
I Climbed down the ladder asking myself “who does he thinks he is?”
Jumped in the zodiac certain that we will find nothing, looking at his face on the moon reflection all I see is a big smile and the photographer’s faces is full of anticipation and excitement.
Stop here he ordered me after 100 mt toward the moon signaled to the divers to enter the water slowly.
I handed them the cameras wishing I could finish my beer and dreaming of a smoke,
few seconds later the torches are on and I was laughing my head off as I was sitting on the zodiac with my feet in the water looking at 2 giant mantas circling around him and the photographers for 45 min till they got enough and went back to the zodiac. I was speechless for the entire evening.
All season I was fascinated with his amazing energy, 5 dives a day and extremely satisfied guests.
Till toward the end of the season we ended up on top of one of stingray station reefs due to an irresponsible boat captain, In 30 seconds he was up on the upper deck collecting the guest telling every crew member what to do calmly, the guests were sure that they were safe.
Meeting Guido at Sharm airport while he was waiting for his wife he started mentioning the Coral Queen his dreamboat explaining the specs and the route he will take which is Deep South discovering unknown barriers to most of the divers at this time.
Another “who does he think he is!”
Visiting Guido in his house in Sharm at 96 we went to his office to see pictures from the south and he spread a big map of the red sea and he stood in front of it as a marshal and he pointed at the Deep south.
Eyes wide open listening to his southern stories hearing about sites for the first time; Elphistone, Samadai, Hamata, fury shoal, zabargad, rocky dedalus, For me Gubal was the end of the world.
“Come with me south and help me” he said.
I missed that opportunity as I was quite settled in Sharm and I was more busy with the night and social life than nature. Dumb dumb dumb!
“You are an idiot” he told me with his funny way. Again I go and ask myself “who does he think he is??”
In 2000 I have enough with the nightlife and crowded Sharm and head to the South and start a small lodge and dive center.
The more I discover the south I remember every word Captain Guido told me.
The dolphin sharks bump head parrotfish…
The amazing hard corals formations unlike the Sinai soft corals…
I went to his house in Hurgada, he met me with a big smile and cheered me up and said “Its never too late kid”.
The next year I was starting the project I was at his place in Hurgada, he was daily helping me out, setting up everything from scratch and lecturing me about the diving industry.
His house was like the godfather house always crowded with the cream of the red sea regardless if you are rich or poor, a big shot businessman or a compressor boy, all you need is to be up to Captain Guido standards which is a person who appreciates beauty and good in life.
I Think we all know who you are, you are someone we will always remember and always miss.
Captain Guido, may you dive in Peace.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Ecology, Sociology and Psychology…2009

Ecology, Sociology and Psychology…2009 -

The year of clean Tondoba

The ideology of Tondoba bay is being an eco friendly project, we are calling for all users and operators to help us honor the concept and preserve Tondoba so that by the end of 2008 we can celebrate the role model we all aspire to be, a Tondoba eco protector.

We have already managed in tackling several issues such as rubbish collection, God bless Hepca, who opened a factory for recycling in Marsa Alam and sent their cars daily for collection (what a liberty…)>My favorite resolved issue is dog poisoning, for the last month no more cases have been reported and hopefully there will be no more dog poisoning incidents in Tondoba.

I would like to thank Dina Zulfikar and AWARE group for their support and guidance.

And the Man of the year and every Year is Dr Mohamed El Helw (Lamy) our dear friend who sends us a very generous donation of kid’s medical supplies for the Ababda babies when I relayed to him that the doctor in the Deco chamber was missing some vitamins, milk and medicine for the local kids and their mothers.

We would like to salute Lamy for his humane prompt reaction and generosity as he refuses to be compensated for the massive bills of medicine………




Turtles of UM TONDOBA

Common Name: Green sea turtle - named for the green color of the fat under its shell.

Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas

Description: They are easily distinguished from other sea turtles because they have a single pair of prefrontal scales (scales in front of its eyes), rather than two pairs as the other sea turtles have. Head is small and blunt with a serrated jaw. Carapace is bony without ridges and has large, non-overlapping, scutes (scales) present with only 4 lateral scutes. Body is nearly oval and is more depressed (flattened) compared to Pacific green turtles. All flippers have 1 visibleclaw. The carapace color varies from pale to very dark green and plain to very brilliant yellow, brown and green tones with radiating stripes. The plastron varies from white, dirty white or yellowish in the Atlantic populations to dark grey-bluish-green in the Pacific populations. Hatchlings are dark-brown or nearly black with a white underneath and white flipper margins. For comparison, the Pacific green turtle (aka Black Sea Turtle) has a body that is strongly elevated or vaulted and looks less round in a frontal view than other green sea turtles. The color is where you see the biggest difference with Pacific greens having a dark grey to black carapace and the hatchlings are a dark-brown or black with narrow white border with white underneath.

Size: Adults are 3.5 to 4 feet in carapace length (76-91 cm). The green turtle is the largest of the Cheloniidae family. The largest green turtle ever found was 5 feet (152 cm) in length and 871 pounds (395 kg).

Weight: Adult weigh between 300 to 400 pounds (136-180 kg).

Diet: Changes significantly during its life. When less than 8 to 10 inches in length eat worms, young crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasses and algae. Once green turtles reach 8 to 10 inches in length, they mostly eat sea grass and algae, the only sea turtle that is strictly herbivorous as an adult. Their jaws are finely serrated which aids them in tearing vegetation.

Habitat: Mainly stay near the coastline and around islands and live in bays and protected shores, especially in areas with seagrass beds. Rarely are they observed in the open ocean.

Nesting: Green turtles nest at intervals of 2, 3, or more years, with wide year-to-year fluctuations in numbers of nesting females. Nests between 3 to 5 times per season. Lays an average of 115 eggs in each nest, with the eggs incubating for about 60 days.

Range: Found in all temperate and tropical waters throughout the world.

Status: - Listed as Endangered (in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future)

Threats to Survival: The greatest threat is from the commercial harvest for eggs and food. Other green turtle parts are used for leather and small turtles are sometimes stuffed for curios. Incidental catch in commercial shrimp trawling is an increasing source of mortality. Population Estimate*: 88,520 nesting females.


In our local dive sites of UM TONDOBA Bay meet the green sea turtle , in the Check point south where the egg nest is , in Marsa Tondoba where the turtle house is and Marsa Mikki .

By: Ismael Marzouk


Employee of the month

Don K
Blistering heat, heavy carriage and on top of that loneliness, he fears nothing and carries his burden like a man. Far away from the spotlights he fulfills his duty with the utmost care and compliancy, an example for all of us. Read more...