The Socotra Archipelago is a natural gem in the Arabian Sea. It belongs to the Republic of Yemen and is located 380 km from the south Yemeni coastline. Very long isolation from the mainland of Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa has given the islands a precious chance to evolve unique and peculiar species of flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else on the Earth.
The number of so called endemics has outreached 300 with more new species discovered each year. This makes Socotra one of the most important sites of biodiversity conservation along such highlights such as the Galapago islands. In 2008, the Archipelago was listed as the Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Samha, Abd Al-Kuri and Darsa Islands
The Archipelago consists of four islands with Socotra being the main island covering the area of 3625 km2. The other islands are Abd Al-Kuri (133 km2) and the brothers Samha (41 km2) and Darsa (5.412 km2). There are also two small rocky outcrops called Sabonia and Saiyal.
The other three main islands of the Archipelago are situated to the west of Socotra. The island of Samha is not bigger than 10x5 km with about 100 inhabitants.
Abd Al-Kuri is larger with the area of 25x5 km. About 450 people live on the island.
Both islands are covered with very little vegetation and are extremely isolated. Samha can be reached in about 4 hours by a fishermen’s boat from Qalansiya, Abd Al-Kuri is about 12 hours by a sambok (a big local yacht).
The island of Darsa is not inhabited.
An “endemic” species is one that is restricted in distribution. In other words, it can be found in only one place in the world and does not occur anywhere else. Socotra has many endemics.