The island has a height of 200 feet above sea level and the total area is approximately 4 km² (4 km in length and 1 km in width). There are several natural caves in the cliffs on the south face which slopes off gradually, unlike the north face which has a sheer vertical drop. The surface of the island is very flat, with deep chasms and crevices which are several feet wide. Vegetation largely consists of scrub and bushes; no trees grow on the island. There is no source of fresh water on the island.
The isolated location of the island has helped maintain endemic life forms. The endangered Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbracata) nest on the beach at the foot of cliffs. The island is also a very important area for endemic reptiles such as the Astola Viper (Echis carinatus astolae). The island is reported to support a large number of breeding water birds including coursers, curlews, godwits, gulls, plovers and sanderlings. Feral cats, originally introduced by fishermen to control the endemic rodent population, pose an increasing threat to bird nesting and breeding sites.
Between September and May of each year, Astola becomes a temporary base for mainland fishermen, for catching lobsters and oysters. From June to August, the island remains uninhabited because of the rough sea and high tides. A small solar-powered beacon has been installed for the safety of passing vessels.
Remains of an ancient Hindu temple of the Hindu goddess, Kali are located on the island. The island was also known to the Hindus as Satadip. There is also a prayer yard dedicated to the Muslim Pir Khawaja Khizr who, according to legend, is said to rule the oceans and is believed to visit the area occasionally and offer prayers there. The prayer yard is used by the fishermen during the fishing season.
In Arrian's Indica, which describes the westward journey of Alexander's fleet after the Indian Campaign (325 BC), Admiral Nearchus is quoted as having anchored by an island named 'Carnine'. It was said to be inhabited by the Ichthyophagoi ('fish eaters' in Greek) and where, "even mutton had a fishy taste". The Persian phrase Mahi khoran, (Fish eaters) has become the modern name of the coastal region of Makran. Some scholars have assumed Carnine to be Astola Island, without considering the extreme aridity and lack of fresh water which renders the place inhospitable for human habitation, as well as animal husbandry. In all likelihood, Carnine was the name of an island in the inland sea, presently known as Khor Kalmat. This latter conjecture supports Nearchus' coast-hugging voyage (which would have kept him well away from Astola), a compulsion meant to provision Alexander's army that was supposed to have marched along a coastal route.
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