Yemen Coral Reefs – Complex Ecosystems with Hardy and Adaptable Inhabitants
The Yemen coral reefs are among the most spectacular of all reefs in the southern region of the Red Sea. The Yemen coast is 2,200km long, with one third of it in the Red Sea and the rest in the Gulf of Aden, with around one quarter of its total length supporting coral reefs that are to be found around the numerous tiny islands along the coast line.
Reef Types and the Wildlife of Yemen Coral Reefs
Only a very small percentage, around 5% of all Yemen reefs, belong to the reef type most common in other seas of the world, fringing reefs – the majority of the reefs in Yemen waters being atolls and barriers. The temperature and salinity conditions in the area are unfavorable for most corals, but the species found along the Yemen coastline are extremely hardy and adaptable.
Yemen’s waters are home to numerous coral species, but the dominant genus is that of Porites, with the first and second runner-ups being the smooth cauliflower coral and the brain coral. Biodiversity is mainly concentrated in the reefs around Socotra – this is where you can find representatives of the 253 stony coral species, as well as an incredible richness of other reef-associated animals such as sharks, eels, rays and tropical fish. Sharks, moray eels, sea urchins, nudibranch and parrot fish are also species that can be seen in the Yemen waters all the time, and sightings of turtles and dolphins are not rare either.
The other regions that host a large number of coral families and offer visitors varied and exciting underwater sceneries are Al Mukalla and the Kamaran Islands, both offering numerous smaller dive sites.
The Yemen coral reefs are still thriving and they continue to grow and delight visitors with their extraordinary diversity and richness.