Updated date:

Fishing in the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia

Author:

As an engineer, Mazlan had the opportunity to travel and work abroad. He has traveled to over 30 countries.

Red Sea Fishing

I have never been a fishing enthusiast and even when I tried fishing, I was never lucky enough to bring in any good catch. 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 in the Red Sea. We could drive to the interesting mountain resorts such as Abha and enjoy the mild weather but this took too long.

UPDATE: Tourist Visa to Saudi Arabia

For the first time in history, the Saudi Government is opening up the country to the ordinary tourist. Effective 28th September 2019, you can apply for a tourist visa online, so you can now travel to the country and try Red Sea fishing.

fishing-in-the-red-sea

Some of my staff were from the Philippines and some were fishermen before. Their talent at fishing with a homemade 'spear gun' is amazing. They did the fishing and we were there only to enjoy the catch!

Red Sea Fish Is Tasty

Fish from the Red Sea is by far the best that I have tasted. The high salinity level of the Red Sea is the reason why Red Sea fish taste so good.

Red Sea fish: The catch, waiting to be washed, cleaned and cooked. The blue colored fish is the parrotfish.

Red Sea fish: The catch, waiting to be washed, cleaned and cooked. The blue colored fish is the parrotfish.

The Red Sea, Surrounded by Six Countries

While waiting for the fishermen to come back with their Red Sea catch, these guys were either busy yakking or preparing the ingredients to make our sushi!

While waiting for the fishermen to come back with their Red Sea catch, these guys were either busy yakking or preparing the ingredients to make our sushi!

The Red Sea Is Special

What is so special about the Red Sea?

To start with, it has over 1,240 miles (2,000 km) of coral reefs, more than 5,000 years old, that provide shelter and food to over 1,200 species of fish. 10% of these species cannot be found in any other pars of the world.

Another reason why the Red Sea is special is its high salinity level of about 40 parts per thousand. This is higher than the world average of 35 parts per thousand by about 14%, and is due to the following:

  • The countries that border the Red Sea are mainly desert countries (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti) that get less rain than other parts of the world and produce no significant rivers that run into the sea.
  • These desert countries also experience extremely hot weather that results in a high evaporation rate.
  • The geographical shape of the sea restricts access to neighboring seas (the Gulf of Aden, the 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 onto the coral reefs or wear something heavy.

Fish red sea: Finally, the fish were brought to shore

Fish red sea: Finally, the fish were brought to shore

Preparing Red Sea Fish

It usually takes about an hour for this group to catch the fish with their homemade spearguns. This part of the Red Sea is not highly populated so it's always a good catch, enough for our group of 20 hungry people.

We have three people busy fishing and the other seventeen waiting eagerly for the catch. Once the fish is brought ashore, it will be cleaned and then some will be barbecued and some made into sushi. For this chore, the fishermen will take a break and the rest of us will cook!

No seasoning is required 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 pufferfish?

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

Colorful Red Sea Fish

One of the things that I observed about these fishes are their colors. They are so colorful. My favorite fish happens to be called parrot-fish. It gets 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 fight. 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 fishes are more colorful than open-sea fishes.

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

Red Sea Fish Species

The Red Sea is home to several types of fish including some dangerous varieties. Some of the aggressive and poisonous fishes found in the area where we swim and fish 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. The place where we swam and fished is protected by several miles of reefs and shallow water that prevent the sharks from entering.

Other fish with a reputation for being aggressive 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 fishes found in this area. My Filipino staff beg to differ on this matter. To them, pufferfish if properly prepared is edible and is one of their favorite fishes.

My Filipino staff with their moray eels caught in the Red Sea

My Filipino staff with their moray eels caught in the Red Sea

Moray Eels and Pufferfish

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 Moray eel looks more like a snake, it actually is a fish. It looks ferocious and you would never think it can taste great!

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

Pufferfish Liver

They also convinced me that eating pufferfish's liver is OK and I will not die from eating it. I tried it and my God, it was fantastic!

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

Later, I did some research and found out that the liver is the tastiest and the best part of the fish. It is also the most poisonous if not properly prepared. This dish is popular in Japan, but in 1984, serving pufferfish liver was banned, as a precautionary measure.

Displaying their bloated tummy after a satisfying fish lunch caught in the red sea

Displaying their bloated tummy after a satisfying fish lunch caught in the red sea

How the Red Sea Got its Name

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

Well, the sea is a beautiful blue and not red color. Sometimes, it does appear red. This is due to the seasonal blooms of the marine plant, Trichodesmium erythraeum, which produces red blossoms. That's 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 an 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, the 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 freshwater sources these countries, including Saudi Arabia, rely on the seawater as a source of water for daily use. Hence, the production of desalinated water for water consumption. 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Mazlan

Comments

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on May 27, 2020:

Hi, Hosie. Thanks for your feedback. There are several reasons why people in Somalia and Eritrea are dying from hunger but I don't think because of people fishing in the Red Sea (I am not referring to commercial fishing) Eritrea borders the Red Sea but not Somalia, which enjoys a huge beachfront on the Gulf of Eden and the Indian Ocean. I will not dwell on details of why there are sufferings and hunger in these countries as there are topics not related to this article. However, I thank you for your input.

hosie on May 26, 2020:

while you are fishing you are killing off people in the places from hunger while you fish for fun in Somalia and Eritrea people are dying cause of you cruel beast.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on February 19, 2017:

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

cris g. visca on February 19, 2017:

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...

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on September 09, 2012:

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

meloncauli on August 30, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 23, 2012:

Mike: Thanks for reading and the compliments.

Mike on August 23, 2012:

I liked reading your hub...the video is

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

@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.

sharewhatuknow from Western Washington on August 21, 2012:

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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

@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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

@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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

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!

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

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!

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 21, 2012:

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

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on August 20, 2012:

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 from Canada on August 20, 2012:

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 from California on August 20, 2012:

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 from Washburn, IA on August 20, 2012:

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 from United States on August 20, 2012:

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.

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on August 20, 2012:

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 from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 20, 2012:

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

Marites Mabugat-Simbajon from Toronto, Ontario on August 20, 2012:

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 from UK on August 20, 2012:

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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

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

whonunuwho from United States on August 20, 2012:

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 from Michigan on August 20, 2012:

That is a colorful assortment of fish. Great post.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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!

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@melis, thanks for reading and leaving the compliment.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 20, 2012:

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!

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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.

Sophie from United Kingdom on August 20, 2012:

@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 :).

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

@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!

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

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

Donna Kristine from Atlanta, GA on August 20, 2012:

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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 20, 2012:

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

Susan Britton from Ontario, Canada on August 20, 2012:

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.

melis on August 20, 2012:

Very interesting hub

Rain Defence from UK on August 20, 2012:

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.

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on August 20, 2012:

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.

Sophie from United Kingdom on August 20, 2012:

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!

Kalpana Iyer from India on August 20, 2012:

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!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 20, 2012:

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 from Pennsylvania on August 20, 2012:

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

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on August 20, 2012:

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

escaran from Philippines on August 20, 2012:

wow cool!!!!

Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on August 20, 2012:

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

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

Dianna Mendez on August 14, 2012:

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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 08, 2012:

@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.

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 08, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 08, 2012:

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

Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on August 08, 2012:

@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.

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff from Long Island, New York on August 08, 2012:

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

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2012:

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

Om Paramapoonya on August 08, 2012:

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.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on August 08, 2012:

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!