Socotra, a natural history of the islands and their people 12/01/2007
As Noosa Shire is poised for nomination as a Biosphere Reserve, it is highly appropriate that the Noosa Library host the February 7th book launch of Socotra, Jewel of the Arabian Sea - a profile of the Socotra Islands of Yemen, known as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2003.
Authors Catherine Cheung and Dr. Lyndon De Vantier are keen for Noosa people to experience a corner of the world few would have been unlikely to have set foot on, through a colourful and informative slide show featuring highlights of their book and unique experience.
Located in the Arabian Sea, east of the Horn of Africa, the Socotra Islands are known for their many endemic species. Its Biosphere status acknowledges the intimate relationship between the islanders and their environment and nomination as a natural World Heritage Site is underway.
Home to hundreds of species found nowhere else, and a people with a unique culture, Socotra so entranced the two marine ecologists that they spent six years of their lives creating a book to reveal its marvels to all. "We gained a great deal on Socotra, experiencing life with a very special people on a remote island known to few Westerners," says author Catherine Cheung, who designs and raises funds for conservation and development programs. "The book is our way of thanking these generous people, and giving something back. It's a 'labour of love' to us."
Camera-wielding Cheung with her coral scientist husband Dr. Lyndon Devantier and their Science Editor Kay Van Damme, solicited and synthesized content from over 100 researchers and institutions covering all aspect of life on the island, past and present. "Together, we hope to inspire conservationists, natural historians and decision makers who play pivotal roles in our fragile world's future," says DeVantier.
The book will be instrumental in bringing to light many recent scientific discoveries and conservation issues on the islands.
The launch will be held on Wednesday, February 7th at 6.00 pm. Bookings are essential (with the Library on 5442 4411), the admission charge will be $6.00 and a light supper will be served. Retailing at $80, copies of the book will be on sale for $70 on the night and proceeds will benefit the Socotra Conservation Fund www.socratraisland.org/fund
Photograph to the right: "The Dragon's Blood Tree Dracaena cinnabari (centre left) and the Desert Rose Adenium obesum subsp. sokotranum (right foreground) atop a limestone plateau on Socotra Island, Yemen." Photo by C. Cheung.