Precontinent II (Sudan)
Precontinent II (Sudan)
Type: Marine Village for scientific experiments
Position: West side of Sha’ab Rumi
Geographic coordinates: 37 ° 24 ‘N, 19 ° 55.45’ E
Minimum depth: 7 meters
Maximum depth: 31 meters
Difficulty of the dive: Easy to moderate
Historically interesting: Highly
Photographically interesting: Highly
Biologically interesting: Highly
At the beginning of the sixties was searched for new ways to make the underwater world usable. Inspired by Jules Verne’s “20,000 miles under the sea” one for years was already dreaming of a commercial use of the ocean.
In 1962, off Marseille, the research team of Jacques Cousteau built an underwater house in 12 meter depth. In Precontinent I for the first time people lived and worked during 2 weeks under water. One year later, another experiment followed over a period of 4 weeks. Precontinent II was built on the sandy bottom on the west side at Shaab Rumi.
The center was the “starfish” in 12 meter depth with a capsule in the center – from there several rooms were leading away. Up to eight divers were living in it. The “urchin” beside was used as a garage for a submarine that could be used up to a depth of 300 meters. North of it was a tool shed, were scooter and tanks were kept in. Shark cages were distributed over the entire area in different depth levels. At the outer edge there was another chamber in which two divers were working. The capsule, supplied with mixed gas, could briefly descend to 110 meters. It was dismantled at the end along with the starfish. The results of the experiment are the basis for the current offshore diving.
Today the sea urchin is one of the main attractions of the former research station. He stands on iron stilts and can be easily dived from below. Well recognized is the flange on which the mini-submarine was docked. The portholes are since long time collected by divers. The table inside is probably not be dismantled because it is welded. Laterally, there is another exit with a water lock. The over and over covered with hard and soft corals ball has a variety of corrosion holes. Through it escapes gurgling the exhaled air of the visitors. On the small sandy area between the starfish and the slope of the plateau is a memorial plaque to a 1973 fatally injured employee of Cousteau.
Immediately behind the station the reef drops almost vertically to 40 meters. At some places on the sandy plateau one can find the remains of shark cages. Usually some whitetip reef sharks resting on the sandy bottom in the early morning hours.
The tool shed lies north of the starfish is 6 meters depth. The roof is open over the entire length. The interior of the garage is empty and offers little exciting. Following the plateau from here to the north, further remains of shark cages can be found at the level of the southern entrance to the Shaab Rumi. Beautifully planted, they provide a wonderful backdrop for photographers.
Although the passage of time has left traces at Prcontinent II, it is certainly a must for every diver. It is advisable to look at the Cousteau movie “Le Monde sans Soleil” (world without sun), before the trip starts. It clearly shows the life and some of the experiments from the underwater village.