Okaaaay this post took way too long. I had it nearly complete. Two more photos left to add! My computer restarted and mysteriously reverted to the post I had started working on a couple of days ago. Hours of work GONE. I only had 8 minutes of a 36 minute long video typed up. I didn’t think I would be able to redo it. BUT I did! I guess having watched it once already made it easier to know which parts I needed to include and it all just went faster the second time.
So here it is…. first some information and screenshots I found interesting in this documentary on Socotra. The English voiceover was a little difficult to understand at times so I did my best to type the words I heard. Even though the English wasn’t perfect, I didn’t want to change their words so tried to type it as I heard it except for a couple spelling adjustments (funguses to fungi, fishes to fish, etc.). The video link is at the end.
Between the ocean and the sea, it hides from the eye. The island of bless, or the sacred land, 500 km distant from the nearest Yemeni coast. A unique island hidden in between the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Welcome to the Yemeni island of Socotra, which is regarded as one of the most four important islands in terms of its biodiversity and as one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.
Miro Naqov (Globtrotter): “It’s hard to say, to express all my feelings for Socotra. Beautiful. When God, whoever is God, made the earth, he played a special game here in Socotra. Made it quite different, but beautiful. It’s amazing.”
Despite its limited space, has a spectacular diversity of topography hat vary between high sloping mountains, flat plains, plateaus, valleys, bays… Through its diverse topographies, Socotra represents a small model of the mainland Yemen. The central plateau occupies most of the islands area as well as commands a view of the coastal plains in a gradually downward fashion. The mountains are scattered over different sides on the central plateau surface, the most important of which are the mountain range of Hajir.
Socotra’s tropical climate and diverse topography have contributed to its character as one of the most biologically and botanically diverse wildlife spot on Earth.
Peter Harrison (Biologist and Environmental Enthusiast): “I am so delighted to be here on Socotra island. I have waited all my life to be here. Socotra island has been a cradle of evolution. In the hills and mountains behind me there are creatures, there are wildlife, there are vegetation forms that are found nowhere else on the face of the planet. This makes this island absolutely unique.”
The vegetation cover of Socotra is astonishing by all measures. The island’s long geological isolation and its remoteness from external effects are important factors. Everything here is just amazing, stunning, and unique.
Peter Harrison (Biologist and Environmental Enthusiast): “Nowhere is there another Socotra. People talk of Galapagos Island, people talk of Antarctica, but in all of Africa this is the most important island to preserve. It has lifeforms found nowhere else on the planet. There are birds, there are the famous dragon blood trees, there are cucumber trees. It goes on and on and on.”
The frankincense tree is the source of one item of the sacred gods that adds up to the island’s mythological dimension. It is astonishing to know that 9 out of an overall 25 kinds of the frankincense tree are found nowhere else but in Socotra. Moreover, frankincense tree measures still a major source of Socotra’s income as well as a very marketable commodity.
The dragon’s blood tree is emblematic of Socotra island. The tree had been associated with a lot of myth and tales. Socotrans have taken it as source of cosmetic and medicine as well as an emblem of their own identity.
According to one myth, the tree grows from drops of ables (???) of blood who was killed by his brother. The tree had been found on Earth for more than 50 million years. More likely in the Mediterranean region, however, Socotra Island has now become the tree’s only habitat on Earth. The dragon’s blood tree can survive in times of drought for its ability to retain water in an excellent and unique way. The tree ranges from 6 to 9 meters in height.
Cut through the tree’s stem in order to exude its red resin which is called phoenix (???) blood. Then it is converted into powder which is always in great demand for traditional medicine in Yemen and some other Arab countries. The part which is used from the tree is an epoxy resin material, the effective element of which is called draco of which a tree may contain an average of 55%. The draco has been in use for theraputic purposes both in ancient and modern times. Yet it still has so many potential uses to offer. The forests of the dragon blood trees spread across the rocky parts of the island.
In Socotra there are 52 big and splendid caves hiding many geological and human details. During the wind season that engulfs the island, most of these caverns become a form of inhabitation for the Socotri islanders. The longest of these caverns is still under scientific discovery where experts estimate its total length to be over than 25 km in the middle of which there is a big lake that could be an important resource for portable water.
Every centimeter of the limestone column took about 10,000 years of formation according to scientific estimates. Historical facts confirm that the cave was used in the ancient past as a religious place of worship. In route for Asia and Africa through Socotra, the travelers and sailors for shelter and for purposes for treating and searching for medicinal and sacred trees that were enshrined in the literature of ancient religions.
Some of these shores are palm fringed and all of which overlook the ocean water which is free of pollution factors making them optimal sites for recreation and scuba diving.
Johnathan Russo (Underwater Diver and Renowned Photographer): “What’s so unique about this system is that very easily accessible from the shore. You walk into very clean, very shallow conditions with excellent corals and a wide variety of fish. And if you’ve dived elsewhere in the Endo-Pacific, you’ll know that this is very rich coral reef fauna. The hard corals are in good condition.”
More than 80 species of coral reefs have been found. 150 fish species exist in the reserve, most of which are coral reef fish.
Johnathan Russo (Underwater Diver and Renowned Photographer): “But what’s so impressive for me here is that obviously as a result of this being a marine protected area, many of the fish that disappear with excessive fishing and spear fishing, red snappers, angel fish, parrot fish are here in big numbers and easily seen by snorkelers or by divers.”
The reserve also contains 16 species of crab, lobster, and shrimp.
The beach of Ar’aher, which is marked by the beautiful sand dunes as well as the fresh water that draws from the cave and directly pours into the sea all year round. Here you are going to see other species of marine organisms and fungi and you will wish to stay longer and longer.
The Socotri people are themselves another sacred of this island of mystery, or rather they are like a great sacred of its mysterious nature and the single most important part of the wondrous Socotra. Nearly 100,000 inhabitants constitute the island’s population. The Socotri have their own mother tongue.
Being an island of mystery and wonders, its inhabitants heavily depend on meat and dates as their only staples. Oddly enough it is interesting to know that the highland dwellers do not eat fish but little, unlike dwellers of the island’s coast. The Socotri islanders are good and peaceful people. They basically work in hunting, herding, and other miscellaneous crafts. They are keenly aware of preserving the nature of their island and to never do it any harm.
The island is completely devoid of any predators, vermin, or biting insects.
Malena (Tourist): “According to my opinion, it’s the most alien island you could ever visit. There is no such nature anywhere. And also, these are the most friendly people you could also meet.”