Context: An Iranian freighter was hit by an “explosion” in the Red Sea, after U.S. media reported Israel had struck the ship in retaliation for past Iranian strikes on its vessels.
- Iran was at pains to stress that the freighter was a civilian ship, although other sources said it had been used by Iranian commandos as a base for shipping protection and other duties in the area.
- Red Sea narrow strip of water extending southeastward from Suez, Egypt, for about 1,200 miles (1,930 km) to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which connects with the Gulf of Aden and thence with the Arabian Sea.
- Geologically, the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba (Elat) must be considered as the northern extension of the same structure.
- At its northern end the Red Sea splits into two parts, the Gulf of Suez to the northwest and the Gulf of Aqaba to the northeast.
- The sea separates the coasts of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea to the west from those of Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the east.
- The Red Sea contains some of the world’s hottest and saltiest seawater.
- With its connection to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal, it is one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the world, carrying maritime traffic between Europe and Asia.
- Its name is derived from the colour changes observed in its waters.
- Normally, the Red Sea is an intense blue-green; occasionally, however, it is populated by extensive blooms of the algae Trichodesmium erythraeum, which, upon dying off, turn the sea a reddish brown colour.
- The Sea lies in a fault depression that separates two great blocks of Earth’s crust—Arabia and North Africa.
- Most of the islands of the Red Sea are merely exposed reefs. There is, however, a group of active volcanoes.
- No water enters the Red Sea from rivers, and rainfall is scant; but the evaporation loss—in excess of 80 inches per year—is made up by an inflow through the eastern channel of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait from the Gulf of Aden.