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Fishing in the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia

Updated on February 17, 2017
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As an engineer, Mazlan had the opportunity to travel & work abroad & had traveled to over 30 countries.

I have never been a fishing enthusiast, and even when I tried fishing, I was never lucky enough to bring in any good catch. However, when I was working in Al Lith, Saudi Arabia, our workplace was by the Red Sea and the only decent thing to do on weekends was to go swimming, diving or fishing, aside from driving to the many interesting mountain resorts such as Abha and enjoying the mild weather.

Fishing in the Red Sea: The catch, waiting to be wash, clean and cook. The blue colored fish is the parrotfish
Fishing in the Red Sea: The catch, waiting to be wash, clean and cook. The blue colored fish is the parrotfish | Source

Some of my staff were from the Philippines and some were fishermen whose natural talents at fishing with a homemade 'spear gun' were amazing. They actually did the fishing. We were there only to enjoy the catch!

I have not eaten all the fish from around the world, but fish from the Red Sea were by far the best that I have tasted so far. I suspect the high salinity level of the Red Sea is the reason Red Sea fish taste so good.

The Red Sea, Surrounded by Six Countries

show route and directions
A markerRed Sea -
Red Sea
get directions

B markerAl Lith -
Al Lith Saudi Arabia
get directions

Fishing in the Red Sea: While waiting for the fishermen to come back with their catch, these guys were either busy yakking or preparing the ingredient to make our sushi!
Fishing in the Red Sea: While waiting for the fishermen to come back with their catch, these guys were either busy yakking or preparing the ingredient to make our sushi! | Source

The Red Sea is Special

So what is so special about the Red Sea?

To start with, it has over 1,240 miles (2,000 km) of coral reefs aged more than 5000 years. Found along its coastline, the reefs provide shelter and food to over 1200 species of fish and 10% of these cannot be found in any other part of the world.

Another reason the Red Sea is special is its high salinity level of about 40 ‰. This is higher than the world average (of 35 ‰) by about 14% and is due to the followings:

  • The countries that border the Red Sea are mainly desert countries (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti) that produce no significant rivers that run into the sea.
  • These desert countries also experience extremely hot weather that results in a high evaporation rate
  • They also get less rain than other parts of the world
  • The geographical shape of the sea restricts access to neighboring seas (the Gulf of Aden\Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea) with lower salinity levels.

This high salinity level makes snorkeling difficult, as every time you dive in, the sea pushes you back to the surface. The only way to stay below the surface is to hang on to the coral reefs or wear something heavy.

Fishing in the Red Sea: Finally, the fish were brought to shore
Fishing in the Red Sea: Finally, the fish were brought to shore | Source

Preparing the Fish

It will usually take about an hour for this group to catch the fish with their homemade spear guns. Most of the time, it will be a good catch, enough for our group of 20 hungry people. You will have three people busy fishing and the rest of the seventeen waiting eagerly at the shore for the catch! Once the fish were brought to shore, they are cleaned and either barbecued or made into sushi. For this chore, the fishermen will take a break and the rest of us will cook!

We do not need any seasoning for the barbecue, as the fish is already tasty on its own. Not even salt or pepper.

Fishes caught in the Red Sea: Washing and cleaning the fish. Do you see the puffer fish?
Fishes caught in the Red Sea: Washing and cleaning the fish. Do you see the puffer fish? | Source

Colorful Fish

One of the things that I observed about these fish are their colors, they are so colorful. My favorite fish happens to be called parrot-fish. It got its name from its teeth that are bonded into a powerful parrot-like beak. This brightly colored fish is a hermaphrodite and apparently, lives in harems with a strong and dominant male parrot-fish. Talk about life!

Do you know why some fish are more colorful than others? It seems that in their fight for mates, the most colorful and brightly colored fish will win the 'battle'. They will also change their color to indicate their readiness and willingness to mate.

Some will use colors to camouflage while others will use colors as a form of communication. Generally, coral fish are more colorful than open-sea fish.

Fish from the Red Sea taste good partly because the salinity level is higher. Preparing for our lunch
Fish from the Red Sea taste good partly because the salinity level is higher. Preparing for our lunch | Source

Red Sea Fish

The Red Sea is home to several types of fish including some dangerous ones. Some of the aggressive and poisonous fish found in the area where we swam and fished are as follows.

Aggressive Fish

There are more than 320 species of sharks in the Red Sea. The aggressive and voracious predators are the Tiger Sharks, Hammer Sharks, and Grey Reef Sharks. Grey Reef Sharks were sighted in several places near our coastline. However, the place where we swam and fished is 'protected' by several miles of reefs and shallow water, which prevented the sharks from entering.

Other aggressive fishes are the moray eels and surgeonfish.

Despite their look, moray eels are actually shy creatures and will only attack in self-defense. This usually happens if you disrupt their burrow. They also have poor vision, hence will rely mainly on their sense of smell. If you attempt to hand feed moray eels, you might end up losing your finger as they might have difficulty distinguishing the food from your finger!

Poisonous Fish

Pufferfish and Boxfish are some of the poisonous fish found in this area. My Filipino staff seems to differ on this matter. In fact, puffer-fish is one of their favorite fish!

My Filipino staff with their moray eels that were caught in the Red Sea
My Filipino staff with their moray eels that were caught in the Red Sea | Source

Moray Eels and Puffer Fish

I have never tried Moray eel before. In fact, the sight of the creature already put me off. It also reminds me of the evil eel characters, Flotsam and Jetsam, in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'.

Although it looks more of a snake than a fish, it is actually a fish. It looks ferocious and you will never imagine that it could actually taste great!

My Filipino staff were more adventurous when it comes to food. Eating moray is a common thing for them and I was not sure if I should try it. However, after seeing them eating the moray, I give it a go.

Puffer Fish Liver

They also convinced me that eating the liver of the pufferfish is OK and I would not die from doing so. After trying it, I must confess that the liver was fantastic and I loved it!

Even my English friend, whose taste buds for these 'exotic foods' take a lot of convincing, totally agreed with me.

Later I found out that the liver is the tastiest and the best part of the fish. Unfortunately, it happens to be the most poisonous and as a result serving pufferfish liver was banned in Japan since 1984!

That we survived after eating it led me to conclude that the pufferfish caught in these waters do not have the deadly toxins that we tend to associate them with. Maybe we were lucky!

Displaying their bloated tummy after a satisfying fish lunch!
Displaying their bloated tummy after a satisfying fish lunch! | Source

How the Red Sea Got its Name

You probably wonder how the Red Sea got its name and if the sea is red in color.

Well, the sea is a beautiful blue color and is not red. Sometimes it does appear red. This is due to the seasonal blooms of the marine plant, Trichodesmium erythraeum, which produces red blossoms. That is probably how it got its name.

Saudi Arabia's Fishing Industry

The relatively good weather, warm climate, diversity of fish species and calmness of the Red Sea make fishing an active sport and industry all year round. This is happening in countries such as Egypt, but not in Saudi Arabia.

Despite having 4,703 miles (7,570 km) of coastline and the abundance of fish in its coastal water, Saudi Arabia's fishing industry is still underdeveloped.

This will all change as the Saudi government recently signed a technical assistance agreement with FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This 5-year program from 2012 to 2016 will cover several sectors including the fishing industry and will benefit the fishermen who are currently working on a small scale.

Protect the Red Sea

As mentioned earlier, all the countries that border the Red Sea are desert countries. With little rain and fresh water sources, these countries, including Saudi Arabia, depend on seawater as a source of water for daily use. Hence, the production of desalinated water. As demands increases, more desalination plants are built.

Unfortunately, the desalination process produces warm brine as well as treatment chemicals that are then discharged back to the sea. Over time, these will have a nasty effect on the reefs, corals and other marine life.

The authorities should monitor these issues and take immediate actions in order to protect not just the marine life but also its infant fishing industry.

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    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 3 months ago from Malaysia

      Yes cris, most are them are my staff from the Phillipines and they are really good at fishing.

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      cris g. visca 3 months ago

      i saw a few filipino on this article.and it seem there work hard to get a fish,im so proud of bieng a pilipino...

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @meloncauli , thanks for your feedback, votes and share. Now that I am back in my country, I missed this weekend Red Sea fishing.

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      meloncauli 4 years ago

      Great hub greatstuff! I love coarse fishing but this is something else. Lucky you! Great photos. Voted interesting and shared.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Mike: Thanks for reading and the compliments.

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      Mike 4 years ago

      I liked reading your hub...the video is

      very interesting. http://www.micoequipment.com

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @sharewhatuknow : I too was initially sceptical but was convinced to try to somehow survived the 'Fear Factor' test. Thanks for dropping by, votes and compliment.

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      sharewhatuknow 4 years ago from Western Washington

      Great hub greatstuff. Thank you for the geography lesson. And there is no way I will ever eat a puffer fish liver. I am surprised you are still with us! I voted up and awesome.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Thank you A.A. Zavala. I greatly appreciate your encouraging comment. That was kind of you.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Night Magic: Your comment is much appreciated. Thanks for your support and compliment.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Robert: Thanks for the congratulatory message, compliments and encouragement. When you work with team members like yourself, you get inspired and I must thank all the team members, you included, of our June Apprenticeship program (Hubaholics Anonymous) for these inspirations and encouragements.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Nurudin Saric : Thank you for the compliments. There are two other articles on Saudi Arabia and I should be writing another one soon. Hope you will find time to read them. Have a great day.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      whonunuwho: Thanks for sharing. I read your article on desalination and you have some interesting ideas there.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      ComfortB : Tilapia is a fresh water fish and when compared to the Red Sea fishes, is nowhere near in terms of quality and taste. Tilapias are raised in farms in Saudi Arabia are available in most supermarkets and wet markets.

      Thanks for the vote and your congratulation message. Sorry, can't share the fish!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Craig Hartranft: That is a brilliant idea. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you view the situation, liquor is ban in Saudi Arabia and the only place to consume liquor is within the diplomatic compound!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      coffeegginmyrice : I am glad you find the article enjoyable and interesting. I am lucky to be in the company of these Filipino staffs otherwise I would not have had the experience of a lifetime! Thanks for the compliments, votes and Share.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Rain Defence : Yes, you should. I look forward to that article.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 4 years ago from Texas

      Outstanding hub! I love fishing in the ocean, and your stringer of fish wwas the most colorful I had ever seen. I actually felt as if I was on the beach waiting for the fish. Thank you for sharing.

    • Night Magic profile image

      Night Magic 4 years ago from Canada

      Good hub. It definitely was interesting and I loved watching the video. I'll agree with you, they should be doing something to protect the coral reefs.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 4 years ago from California

      This is a great article and congratulations on making it onto the hub of the day! The pictures are great. I love the colors of those fish. Keep up the great writing!

    • Nurudin Saric profile image

      Nurudin Saric 4 years ago from Washburn, IA

      Wow, that looks like fun. I have friends from Saudi Arabia and they tell me great things about the country. You truly are having fun and working at this same time. The fish look amazing as well . I would love to hear "read" more of your stories.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      greatstuff, you may be interested in reading a hub that I wrote on Cold fusion, and one on desalination.Thanks again for your great hub.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      O greatstuff, you're living the life I dream. What an adventure you've had! I love the ocean, and I love to eat fish. My favorite is tilapia. I bet there are thousands of those swimming around in there.

      Thanks for sharing this hub. Would have preferred you shared the fish. Voted Up and Interesting. And congrats on the HOTD award!:)

    • Craig Hartranft profile image

      Craig Hartranft 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Prepared with some chips and served with an English ale, would make that catch even tastier. Nice story, exotic location.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Very enjoyable and interesting hub! I miss the natural way of a fresh catch fish and then thrown into fire (sinugba). Along with other seafood catch, it becomes like a feast on the beaches in the Philippines, just like this one here- fishing and lunch in Saudi Arabia by the Red Sea. This hub is wonderful and has lots of educational facts as well esp. its location, the Red Sea. I can tell right away that they were Filipinos (your staff). Good company. Sharing your hub and voted!!!

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 4 years ago from UK

      Awesome, now I know I can go out with operators that let you catch and eat the fish, then I'm looking forward to it even more! I'll be sure to write about it.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @whonunuwho. I am pleased that you found this hub on red sea fishing interesting and I too hope the desalination process can move towards more eco-friendly method such as cold fusion, as mentioned by you. Thanks for sharing.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @michiganman567 : Thank you for dropping by and commenting. Have a great day.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      A very interesting work and I really enjoyed the beautiful photos as well. Interesting in the facts that you mentioned coral and the fish colors. Many creatures and fish included, take on the coloration of their environment to survive and I suspect the coral there is quite beautiful. The desalination is most needed and perhaps, using cold fusion, which leaves no residual poisons or harmful side effects, may some day be utilized in the desalinization process in countries around the world, particularly where there is little rainfall, as you mentioned about the middle eastern countries. Fantastic hub and hope to see more.

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 4 years ago from Michigan

      That is a colorful assortment of fish. Great post.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @zsobig: Oh OK. Yes next time you must go fishing.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @leahlefler: Parrotfish has mild flavor and they taste better when fried instead of barbecue. My first taste of parrot fish was when I was invited for lunch to a Saudi friend's house and in Saudi, the meal portion is always huge! They put a big fish (I did not know it was parrotfish until later) on my plate and I told them that I will not be able to finish it, but they insisted. I ended up having a second helping!

      The puffer fish was scary but after seeing them eating, I finally give it a go. So did my other English and Canadian office mates!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Kristine Manley: The red sea is just right at our footstep and on most weekends, we will be swimming, snorkeling, diving or fishing. It is a great place and now that I am back in my own country, I missed those weekends! Thnaks for the compliments.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @suzzycue: Thanks for the compliment and I am glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @melis, thanks for reading and leaving the compliment.

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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Rain Defence : Egypt is the best route to enjoy the Red Sea and if you join one of licensed tour company, you can get to enjoy diving and fishing and if you cannot catch and eat anything, you will find the local seafood restaurants serving some of these great red sea fishes. Hope you will share with us your experience, on HubPages!

    • leahlefler profile image

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Wow - I have never seen fish like that before. The parrot fish is such a beautiful color! Is it a mild fish, or strong in flavor? I'd be terrified to eat the puffer fish, since they can be highly toxic, but it sounds like you had some brave staff members on hand that knew how to prepare it properly!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Cyndi10: Besides desalination, they should explore the alternative way of trapping moisture from the air to produce water. They have enough money to invest in this alternative method and I doubt if they have started on this yet. I know the neighbouring country; UAE was looking at this before. Thanks for the visit and the votes.

    • zsobig profile image

      Sophie 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @greatstuff: I've already been to Egypt, it's a great place as well. Next time if I am able to visit it again, I'll surely try fishing somewhow :).

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @zsobig: I am glad you found this article on red sea fishing informative and inspiring. If you have the chance, you should come over for diving and fishing in this beautiful and historic sea. Saudi Arabia may be difficult to get visa unless you come on business or work visa. It is easier to go to Egypt instead for the Red Sea experience. Thanks for all the votes.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @divacratus. Red sea fishes are colorful and you are right; our initial reaction is the aquarium and not the stomach! Thanks for the visit and the congratulatory message.

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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @pstraubie48: Thank you for your kind comment. I am glad you enjoyed my hub. Have a great day!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @deerev: The fishes are colorful and beautiful and it can be difficult to eat. In fact, when you go shopping at the fish market or at the fish section of any supermarkets, you will see so many others beautiful and colorful fishes and you will conclude that red sea fishes are in fact colorful and beautiful!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @prasetio30 I am glad you found this article on red sea fishing entertaining and thanks for the vote.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I love to fish and this Hub was fascinating to read. It looks like you and your staff had a great time. Your photos are wonderful and the weather looked beautiful for such an excursion. The fish are beautiful in color.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @bumblehub Yes, you are right; fishing experience in the red sea is cool!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Emma Harvey. Thanks for the compliment and votes. Those fishes ARE amazing.

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      A great fishing hub. This is always something I enjoy watching fish swimming ,water and eating them. The video was excellent. It made me feel like I was actually there with you. Well done . This deserves hub of the day congratulations.

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      melis 4 years ago

      Very interesting hub

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 4 years ago from UK

      I am now very hungry after reading this. I am planning a trip to Egypt for some diving for my next holiday, I can't wait, although I'm not sure if I'll be able to catch and eat anything. I would love to try it though.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      This was a very interesting article. You packed a lot of information about the Red Sea and the fish into this. I hope those desert countries are mindful of the harm they will end up doing to the sea if they don't find a way to produce the water without releasing pollutants into the water. Voted up and interesting. Take care.

    • zsobig profile image

      Sophie 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow I love fishing a lot but I'm used to 'regular' fishing on lakes.... this is awesome! I'm glad you shared this hub, it is beautiful and very informative, makes me wanna go there to fish at least once in my life!

      Thank you for writing this!

      Voted up + interesting + awesome!

    • divacratus profile image

      Kalpana Iyer 4 years ago from India

      The fishes are so beautiful that no one would want to eat them in the first place. The first reaction would be to raise them in an aquarium. Beautiful catch though and good to know you guys enjoyed your meal. Even I was under the influence that puffer fishes are dangerous, but you've proved otherwise. Congrats on getting chosen as Hub of the Day. Well deserved!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      For being a self-described 'non-fisher person' you have woven quite a fish tale. This was an adventure that I probably will never have but I can appreciate it through your eyes.

      The fish do look incredible in their color although I know photos cannot really tell the whole story.

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • deerev profile image

      deerev 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      The fish look to beautiful to eat. Great video, thank you for sharing.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very entertaining hub and I really enjoy all pictures here. Thanks for posting and share with us. Voted up!

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      escaran 4 years ago from Philippines

      wow cool!!!!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Harvey 4 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Fantastic hub with wonderful photo's. Those fish sound amazing.

      What an interesting place to visit - voting up and awesome!

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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      The photos of the fish are so beautiful. I would almost not want to eat them later. I have to say that I didn't know eels were tasty, but really not a food I would choose to eat. Your share on the history of the Red Sea was really well done -- very interesting.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @rfmoran, Thanks for the compliment. As I mentioned in my article, Red Sea fishes are probably the tastiest that I have ever tried, in all my 30 years of travel.

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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @billybuc , I agree with you they looked too pretty and colorful to eat. They taste great though.

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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @Om, Fishing is fun especially when you get a good catch. You should give it a try. You might get hooked!

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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @sgbrown , You are right, the Red Sea is an interesting and beautiful place to see and visit. Saudi Arabia's rigid visa requirement may not be easy to come in as a tourist. Egypt will be easier and the political unrest has 'mellowed' now! Thanks for the votes.

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      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Fascinating Hub with great photos. Your description of the taste and preparation made me hungry!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Those are some pretty fish....almost too pretty to eat....but I would still eat them. Very interesting hub and great pictures.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

      I'm not really into fishing, but your photos surely make it look like a heck of fun! I bet you had an amazing lunch that day. Thanks for this fascinating hub.

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      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Very interesting hub and great pictures! I think the Red Sea would be a very interesting and beautiful place to see. You are lucky to have the opportunity. I love to eat fish, but have never had the chance to try any of these. I would especially like to try the eel. Voted this up and interesting. Have a great day!

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