Red Sea Atlas
Over a four year period, the Living Oceans Foundation has been involved in a massive scale marine habitat research project in the Red Sea. The results are now published in this first-ever atlas of the Red Sea marine habitats of offshore coral reefs. It is available for download in both English and Arabic.
The Red Sea is a narrow, but relatively deep, oceanic trough that extends for over 1900 km, between 13º and 28º N latitude. It has a total surface area of roughly 438,000 km², with a width of approximately 180 km in the north, and 354 km at its widest point in the south. The Red Sea narrows to about 29 km in the Strait of Bab el Mandab, where it joins the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The maximum depth is over 2200 m, with an average depth of 490 m. The Red Sea is shallowest at the southern end, with depths of only 130 m in the Strait of Bab el Mandab. It is the world’s northernmost tropical sea, with extensive shallow shelves that support complex coral reefs and associated ecosystems.
The Red Sea is part of the tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean, which encompasses the largest marine ecosystem on earth and also the most diverse. Much of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coastline is characterized by coastal fringing reefs that are narrow, extending tens of meters from shore before plummeting to deep water. However, several regions in Saudi Arabia contain extensive seagrass beds, offshore reef habitats, mangroves, and algal flats. These areas support a wide range of reef morphologies, such as barrier reefs, patch reefs, ridge reefs, atolls, tower reefs, pinnacles, pillars, and spur and groove structures, as well as diverse coral communities growing on algal-derived limestone structures (Sheppard et al. 1992).