Turkey’s “Red Sea” diving spot, set for new season

Posted on 14 February 2011

Date: 14/04/2009
Turkey’s “Red Sea” diving spot, set for new season

ANTALYAAyvalik offers underwater photographers and divers red coral usually found only near the Red Sea. With its 60 diving points, this district in Balikesir also boasts a wealth of undersea life, which is a main factor in the town’s tourism value

A district in Balikesir, Ayvalik steps up to become a center in tourism as it offers a variety of underwater riches.

Rich with red coral that usually grows near countries on the Red Sea, Balikesir’s Ayvalik district has opened for the season, offering incredible views for undersea photographers with its 24 islands and 60 diving points.

Ayvalik, in the Marmara region, is one of Turkey’s most important spots in terms of fauna and flora and is a competitor to the Red Sea.

Kemal Çaliskan, diving instructor and owner of a diving center, said that the district attracts diving enthusasts from all around the world, especially from Germany.

“The number of foreign divers increases every day,” Çaliskan said. “Last year, 5,000 divers were hosted by four diving centers in Ayvalik alone. We are trying to multiply the number by three or four this year.”

Tourism value

Çaliskan underlined the importance of the red coral in the area’s tourism value.

“The red coral, believed to have taken its color from the mineral-rich mountains by the shores of the Red Sea, may spread in seas with warm climates,”he explained. “It offers a habitat to many forms of sea life and increases Ayvalik’s tourism value.”

Çaliskan also explained that the red coral creates a beautiful underwater view of the Aegean and that many tourists visit the district to see the coral and to take pictures.

The area does not only welcome visitors from Germany, but also divers from Sweden, Holland and France come to the district to dive, said Çaliskan, adding that the number is approximately 500 each month.

“The interest in Ayvalik’s underwater beauty increases every day,”Çaloskan said. “We and the Ayvalik Chamber of Commerce have roles in that through our advertising. There are 60 diving points in Ayvalik that feature coral reefs.”

“There is always a spot available to dive, even in bad weather conditions,” Çaliskan added.

“Ayvalik is a perfect diving area; it has diving points with depths fit for every level [of diver]. There are many diving points that would be available for use 12 months a year.”

The points that would offer protection to divers in bad weather conditions include Deli Mehmet Reef I, Deli Mehmet Reef II, Kerbela, Kule Reef, Ali Reis Shallows, Barbonaksa Shallows, Vapur Shallows I and II, Tokmaklar Reef and 19 Kulaç.

Diving 12 months a year

Ayvalik Mayor Hasan Türközen said they have been executing a project that aims to promote the area’s value to the foreigners. So far, they handed out nearly 50,000 CDs and brochures abroad to promote the district’s underwater beauty.

“Ayvalik has a unique diving track. There is no need for centers continents away or the world-famous ones. Foreigners have started to notice the area lately. We expect Turkish divers here, too,” Türközen said, adding that their goal is to increase diving tourism by better promoting the undersea riches.

Hurriyet 14 April 2009

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