AURACEA’s Preliminary Report [Archives:1997/48/Culture]

December 1 1997

Members of the Auraca Marine Science Research Expedition held a press conference at the Yemeni Cultural Center in Sanaa. It was attended by the Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr. Hisham Ali Bin Ali; the French Ambassador, Mr. Andr Ganier; and many specialists and representatives of the media. The research team presented a preliminary report on its findings on the fauna and flora on the Island of Socotra. A film was shown about Auraca’s activity on Hunaish Island in 1993. The Auraca team consists of 15 French and 4 Yemeni scientists, 10 journalists and photographers, a 3-member medical team, and 5 handymen. During the expedition’s 33 days on the island, members of the research team conducted more than 350 diving missions, took more than 1,000 underwater pictures, and another 1,000 pictures of the island itself. Weather problems interrupted the work of the expedition now and then. The researchers took specimen of 60 types of sponge, some of which were biologically tested on site. Due to their complexity, the remainder of the specimen will be studied in France as they require few years to be fully examined. Chemical tests will be carried out on them. Some of them will be exhibited at the Natural History Museum in Paris. A new type of sponge, which was first found in Djibouti in 1986, has also been discovered near the Island. Another new and unique type of sponge, which they named Spark Sponge, was found to cause skin irritation. The Red Sponge was also discovered in large quantities. The team also studied the birdlife on the island where they discovered a rare type of buzzard, and 4 new types of butterflies. The Auraca team announced that its report was only preliminary. More detailed reports will follow after laboratory tests. The expedition was sponsored by Arduokoba Scientific Mission and the Daniel Jouvance Marine Biology Laboratories.