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Arabian Jurassic Park (15 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
07 Nov 2012

Nestled high on a plateau between the Haghier mountain range and the Arabian Sea, five Socotrans gather in a stone hut devoid of electricity, running water and all but the most essential supplies. After a fire-cooked dinner of goat, rice, and tea, the men of the Dixam plateau settle in for a standard night of song, poetry and discussion about their island’s future.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (11 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
07 Nov 2012

Fishermen handling the shark they captured in Ras Irsel, the deserted easternmost point of the island. Fishing from small boats has been traditionally the primary occupations of the people of Socotra along the coasts. The waters of the island are crammed with all kinds of fish and some rare species, like the Acropora palifera and Rhincodon, only found on Socotra.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (23 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
07 Nov 2012

Kids from a village on the southern slope of the Haghier mountains. The children of Socotra hold the future of the unique land in their hands.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (13 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
06 Nov 2012

A fisherman from Matief, an isolated village on the south coast, carries his family all the way to visit relatives in Ras Irsel, at the easternmost point of the island. Along the uninhabited stretch of coast, the beautifully carved cliffs drop off into the waters giving home to a wide variety of sea birds, like cormorants and brown boobys.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (24 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
06 Nov 2012

Descending from the humid rainforests of the Haghier mountains, still far from the southern coast, sky and land open in a hotter savannah-like landscape with small stone villages scattered throughout. In most cases these consist of a few clustered houses shared by extended families. Two men from the mountain villages lead our way to a house, where we share a meal of goat and rice, as well as find shelter from the cold night.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (20 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
05 Nov 2012

Underwater view in the Dihamri protected area, located on the northeast coast of the island. Some species of rare fish, like the Acropora palifera and Rhincodon, are only found on Socotra.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (1 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
02 Nov 2012

In Skand area, the Socotra's highest peak (1525 m) is to be found among a series of micro-climates which have developed many different kinds of atmospheres, from humid rainforests in the high lands of the Haghier mountains to the open savannah-like prairies which lead the way through mysterious valleys to the crisp blue ocean. The young sharp mountains of Skand form a massif of vertical cliffs where Dragon Blood trees and a variety of endemic plants grow in impossible ways. Small ruins of ancient constructions dot the landscape.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (2 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
02 Nov 2012

Man drinking fermented milk in his hut. Diksam, the Haguier mountains.

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The Ancient Arabian Island of Socotra
Socotra, Yemen
By Serene Yordi
01 Nov 2012

Photos by Juan Herrero

Socotra, an island 250 miles off the coast of Yemen, is one of a kind. This ancient land mass is home to more than a thousand plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth, numbers rivaled only by the Galapagos Islands and Hawaii.

Dragon blood trees, rare birds and fish live among the equally ancient inhabitants of Socotra. The people are considered to be a mixture of African, Greek, Portuguese and Arab, and speak an archaic, unwritten language, which was spoken in pre-Islamic Arabia for many centuries. 

Though the Socotran lifestyle has been very traditional, sustainable and virtually self-sufficient, the island has become more traveler-friendly, promoting eco-tourism that preserves the unusual environment. 

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Arabian Jurassic Park (12 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

Along the deserted north-eastern coastline, the massive dunes of Arher's steep cliffs facing the Aden sea. Crossing between the dunes are fresh water streams that originate in the mountains above, making the landscape even more surreal.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (10 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

Underwater view in the Dihamari protected area, located on the northeast coast of the island. Some species of rare fish, like the Acropora palifera and Rhincodon, are only found on Socotra.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (4 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

Dragon Blood tree forest facing Dirhur river valley. The Dragon Blood tree is a Socotran icon and one of the most striking plants of the island. This strange-looking tree is one of its countless endemic species. The Dragon's blood’s red sap has been used as medicine and dye for hundreds of years. Experts say the future of the species is threatened due mainly to the climate change and to a series of problems that have lead to poor reproduction of the tree.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (3 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

A house in a little village located halfway between the Dragon Blood forest in Firmihin and the southern coast. The family invited us in for rice, fermented milk, tea and a break from harsh midday heat. Most of the Socotrans who live in such inaccessible areas don't have electricity or running water.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (14 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

Landscape in Skand, the Haghier mountains. Studies have shown that the presence of fog in the highlands is crucial for Socotra's vegetation, as it represents up to 77% of total moisture received. Species like the Dragon Blood tree use their upraised branches to capture the mist. Socotra’s climate has been crucial in the evolution of its flora and fauna, leading to its outstanding biodiversity.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (8 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

Landscape in Skand, the Haghier mountains. Studies have shown that the presence of fog in the highlands is crucial for Socotra's vegetation, as it represents up to 77% of total moisture received. Species like the Dragon Blood tree use their upraised branches to capture the mist. Socotra’s climate has been crucial in the evolution of its flora and fauna, leading to its outstanding biodiversity.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (7 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

View from Dirhur valley. The omnipresent Dragon Blood tree is Socotra's icon, one of the most striking plants of the island. This strange-looking tree is one of its countless endemic species. The ancients thought its characteristically red sap was dragon's blood, and used it as a medicine and dye for hundreds of years. Experts have stated that the future of the species is threatened due to its poor reproduction under the climate change conditions.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (5 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
01 Nov 2012

Trekking along the range that separates Dirhur and Durhur valleys to the south of the Haigher Mountains. Since a new airport was built in 2002, interest in this remote paradise has grown enormously. Though, even at its height prior to the Arab Spring, only 4,000 or so people visit. The area is attractive for committed travelers interested in ecotourism in exotic places. Nevertheless the traditional ways that have endured for centuries, which have been the keepers of Socotra's outstanding biodiversity, may be irreversibly damaged if the mass tourism and speculation takes over the place.

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Arabian Jurassic Park (18 of 24)
Socotra, Yemen
By dustweare
31 Oct 2012

Humid forest area high in the Haghier mountain range. Studies have revealed that the importance of fog present in the highlands is crucial for Socotra's vegetation as it can be as high as 77% of total moisture received. Species like the Dragon Blood tree use their upraised branches to capture fog water. Socotra’s climate has been crucial in the evolution of its flora and fauna, leading to its outstanding biodiversity.

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The Pearl-Qatar, Doha, Qatar
The Pearl Qatar, Doha, Qatar
By Mariwan Salihi
02 Sep 2012

The mixed-use artificial island development of "The Pearl-Qatar," in the Qatari capital, Doha.

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Esplin120711_2385.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
11 Jul 2012

The rate of ocean acidification is expected to accelerate in the near future. Since the industrial revolution, ocean acidification has increased by 30%. Scientists believe that this rate is faster than anything previously experienced over the last 55 million years.

The problem is that even a mild change in PH levels has significant impact on animals with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons. They literally dissolve. Affected animals include krill and plankton as well as coral. This means that the bottom of the food web could potentially become extinct, and in turn so could fish, according to Zoologist Kent Carpenter: "If corals themselves are at risk of extinction and do in fact go extinct, that will most probably lead to a cascade effect where we will lose thousands and thousands of other species that depend on coral reefs.”

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Esplin120710_2336.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
10 Jul 2012

A fisherman wades through the shallows carrying a handful of possessions after a mornings fishing trip.

Attempts to educate fishermen have been made by the environmental community, and attitudes are slowly changing. The Coral Triangle Initiative announced that it saw a decrease in the use of destructive fishing methods in 2012. Although, they stated that other threats such as Population increase, pollution and sedimentation have increased considerably.

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By Mark_Esplin
10 Jul 2012

A fisherman on Palawan Island in the Philippines prepares for a fishing voyage out to sea.

Scientists have predicted that by 2100, global temperature rise could result in the extinction of coral in the Coral Triangle. This would lead to an 80% reduction in regional food production.

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Fishers tend to target bigger fish, which act as predators in the food web. Biologists have observed a change in the Philippines' species composition, and an increase of fishing for small oceanic fish – anchovies, etc. This is a good indication of overfishing, and of gradual stock collapse, as fishers can no longer catch larger fish to support themselves.

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

The Philippines Government admits that all targeted species in the Philippines are showing signs of overfishing. Officials also recognise that the current approach to fishing is unsustainable. “Overall, the harvest rate of Philippine fisheries is approximately 30 percent higher than the maximum sustainable yield, which will likely trigger stock collapses in the absence of increased management.” (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

The majority of people within the Coral Triangle are living in poverty. This increases the social and economic importance of reefs, and reduces their ability to adapt to depleting fish supplies.

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

The threats to the Coral Triangle are numerous, and often vary from site to site. As such there is not a single answer to the problems faced by these ecosystems. Nevertheless, wide ranges of solutions are being adopted in an attempt to curb this degradation. These include: Marine Protected areas (MPA), gear restrictions, and catch regulations.

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

A decline in reef biodiversity does not only affect local communities and subsistence fishermen’s food security, though they are likely the hardest hit. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), natural capital contributes significantly to manufacturing and service economies, that in-turn helps stabilise a nations food security. In their report ‘TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers’ the UNEP suggest one systemic cause for a lack of local will power to preserve natural resources. “Benefits depend on local stewardship, local knowledge and, in some cases, foregoing opportunities for economic development – yet people on the ground often receive little or no payment for the services they help to generate. This can make it more economically attractive to exploit the resource rather than preserve assets of global worth.”

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Government figures state that 67% of animal protein in the Philippines is comprised of fish and fish products. This makes fish the nations most important food source, next to rice.

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

A fisherman prepares his line in a small wooden shack as his daughter plays behind. Surrounded by sublime tropical waters, the 7,000+ island shorelines of the Philippines are home to 40 million people - 45% of its population.

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Hook and line fishing techniques are seen as a solution compared to large scale commercial methods like trawler nets, that are considered dramatically unsustainable. Commercial fishing is having a drastic impact on fish stocks around the globe. Populations of targeted species such as Bluefin Tuna and Cod have reduced 90% since the 1960s, according to professors at the University of British Columbia.

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By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Hook and line fishing techniques are seen as a solution compared to large scale commercial methods like trawler nets, that are considered dramatically unsustainable. Commercial fishing is having a drastic impact on fish stocks around the globe. Populations of targeted species such as Bluefin Tuna and Cod have reduced 90% since the 1960s, according to professors at the University of British Columbia.

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Esplin120709_2347.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

It is not only coral reefs that are affected by global warming. Other important environments, such as mangrove forests and sea grass beds, which provide habitats for hundreds of thousands of fish species and other organisms, are also threatened. Further destruction and loss to these domains will have profound effects on the productivity of costal regions and the lives of people reliant on them.

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By Mark_Esplin
07 Jul 2012

According to the WWF, “The decreased productivity of coastal ecosystems will reduce the food resources and income available to coastal communities in the Coral Triangle. By 2050, coastal ecosystems will only be able to provide 50% of the fish protein that they do today, leading to increasing pressure on coastal agriculture and aquaculture.”

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By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

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By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

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By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

Tourist diving boats float above a reef in the North-East Philippines. Such tours can have a devastating impact on the health of reefs as participants inevitably kick or displace coral formations. The excess pollution caused by nearby hotels and resorts are an often unseen yet leading factor to the decline of a reefs health.

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By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

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By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

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By Mark_Esplin
04 Jul 2012

Government statistics suggest that in one year 1,370 tons of coral trout alone were exported, creating revenues of US$140 million. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) disputes this figure; suggesting high incidences of illegal and unreported trafficking, significantly expand the official records. They go on to state relaxed trade agreements are one of the leading factors creating additional demand on the Philippines reefs resources.