In olden times sailors used to refer to the four cardinal points of the Earth in terms of colours. One of the cardinal points, South, was assigned the colour red, and the sea that lies South, between Africa and Asia connected to the Indian Ocean, was called the Red Sea. In English language there are four seas that are named after colours. They include the Red Sea, the Black Sea, the White Sea and the Yellow Sea.
The Red Sea covers a part of the Great Rift Valley, known as the Red Sea rift. The maximum length of the Red Sea is 2250 km with a maximum width of 355 km and a minimum width of 26 km. About 65% of Red Sea is quite shallow with a depth range of 50-100 m. The deepest point of the Red Sea is approximately 2211 km. The total surface area covered by the Red Sea is about 438000 sq. km with a water volume of about 233000 cu. km.
Red Sea from the pages of history
Thousands of years before Christ was born, ancient Egyptians were a powerful civilization with advances in maritime navigation. The ancient mariners of this great civilization were the first people to explore the Red Sea. Later on, the third king of Achaemenid Empire also sent expeditions to explore the Red Sea. This sea was an important route that connected Africa and Middle East with Asian countries like India and China. The Red Sea played an important role in Roman history as they frequently used these waters for their trade. Connection between the Red Sea and River Nile was important for such trades. A great many pharaohs and other leaders envisioned this connection and several canals were built. These canals never survived until in 1859 when the Suez Canal was built.
The most saline sea in the world
The average salinity of the world’s oceans and seas are about 35%; compared to this, the average salinity of the Red Sea is about 40%. The Red Sea is one of the most saline water bodies in the world. There are several factors that contribute to the salinity of the Red Sea. High evaporation rate, little precipitation, absence of a fresh water system that drains into the sea and the lack of connectivity with the Indian Ocean are some of the factors that contribute to the high salinity of the Red Sea.
Water currents of the Red Sea
Not much is known about the currents of the Red Sea due to lack of data. The water currents of the Red Sea are amazingly weak compared to that of other seas. The deciding factor for the currents in the Red Sea is wind. The overall direction of the Red Sea current is towards North, though it is most of the time unpredictable.
Climate of the Red Sea
Northeasterly monsoon and Southwesterly monsoon describe the climate of the Red Sea. The monsoonal winds are created due to the difference in temperature between the sea and the land surrounding the Red Sea. Due to its high surface temperature, the Red Sea is considered to be one of the hottest seas of the world. The heat is aggravated by the minimal rainfall to the Red Sea. Even though this is the case, the coral life and other marine organisms survive in this environment.
Marine life of the Red Sea
With approximately 1200 species of fish and some of the varieties of shark that visit, the Red Sea is a very rich and diverse ecosystem. Among the fish found in the Red Sea, 10% of these fishes are unique to the Red Sea. Fringing coral reefs that have aged 5000 to 7000 years are found along the coastline of the Red Sea. These reefs provide shelter to much of the marine life of Red Sea, and contribute to the beauty of the Red Sea.
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