14-Oct-2005 -- We were north of the Yanbu` area and had camped on the coast and were hoping to see the turtles come ashore and make their way up the beach and bury their eggs in the sand. The full moon was to be in a few days and high tide was about 3:00 a.m., which is when they are able to cross the reef and swim the shallow rocky waters for 50 meters to the sandy beach. At least 3 turtles had been very recently and left their tracks, which looked like a big tractor tire. We kept getting up during the night but had no success, and at daylight there were no fresh tracks at our beach. However, our compensation in the morning was brilliant snorkeling on the Red Sea reef with calm waters, corals of different bright colors and so many thousands of wonderful fish of all colors and sizes - fantastic.
On our return journey southwards we came to Yanbu`, which is the second main industrial city in Saudi Arabia (the other is Jubayl on the east coast). It is a major port for oil exports with many big petrochemical industries and oil refineries, desalination and power plants, oil and LPG storage tank fields, cement plants, etc. With little pollution controls, the city has a unique smell and an industrial haze shimmering in the hot and humid air.
It was noon on a Ramaḍān Friday, and as we filled up with gas the midday calls to prayers from the mosques were being called, so it was a good time to explore with very little traffic. We thought we would get close to the confluence point which is situated off the coast in the Red Sea, and is not generally accessible, as going out on boats is restricted by the authorities. We decided to leave the central part of the old city and travel away from the port so as to be less conspicuous as we took photos. This obviously is a sensitive city with major important facilities and there was a heavy presence of police, Saudi Aramco, and Coast Guard vehicles cruising around.
A few km southwestwards and the road came along the seashore. Small mangroves grew in the shallow warm waters, and just out of range for our camera, a white heron was wading through looking for lunch (the only one eating as it is Ramaḍān). Our GPS showed the confluence point lay 12.6 km further out into the calm blue waters, which was quite good for us as this was only 2 km from the shortest point. This uninhabited seashore continued for 5 km or so, and we were going to take some more photos at the exact 24N position, but this was near a marina and the Coast Guard were patrolling. This area had been well developed into huge new company housing subdivisions with nice villas, and on the shore were many picnic areas and parks with plenty of trees and grass, which is not that common in most Saudi cities.
After completing our attempt to get near the confluence point, it was back to the main road south and three boring hours' drive on the flat hot plains to Jidda.