activities in mauritius
30 Jan All you need to know about Saint Brandon

There are indeed very few places on Earth left that modernization has not been able to touch. Man has re-visualized creation and redefined the physiographic of several places, suiting them to his ever-changing needs and desires. St Brandon is one of those rare places to have escaped this transformation. Upheld in its natural state, its uniqueness embraced in its originality, St Brandon is a piece of Paradise that seems to have preserved itself for the angels to pull away. Remnants of its biological past testify the minimum human interaction on the island. There is a small transient population of Creole natives consisting mostly of fishermen, the majority of which living in Raphael village (situated on ilot Raphael).


In the past, Cargados Carajos (St Brandon) was a large, volcanic island. Over time, the sea played its trick and the island was eroded. This continued until it became submerged and a coral atoll was left behind. The lagoon enclosed by this atoll may be the greatest bonefishing destination in the world today. Rumours have it that the atoll may have been first discovered by Arabian sailors, and named later by Portuguese ones. Benefiting from its hidden location, pirates have once used the islands as their haven.

History of St Brandon

In the past, Cargados Carajos (St Brandon) was a large, volcanic island. Over time, the sea played its trick and the island was eroded. This continued until it became submerged and a coral atoll was left behind. The lagoon enclosed by this atoll may be the greatest bonefishing destination in the world today. Rumors have it that the atoll may have been first discovered by Arabian sailors, and named later by Portuguese ones. Benefiting from its hidden location, pirates have once used the islands as their haven.


The Flora and Fauna

Rich in flora and fauna, St Brandon benefits from its own magical Nature. The islands are covered with white granular sand from eroded coral and a thick layer of guano can be found in most places. Almost deserted, the islands’ beaches are a favourite place for sea turtles to lay their eggs. Coconut trees can be found on few of the Saint Brandon islands as well as bushes and grass. The coral reefs and the lobster infested outer reefs have remained in perfect condition. This archipelago has a huge range of marine biodiversity, including crayfish and octopus.

Geography

Each of the islands of St Brandon has some special characteristics. Albatross Island is the highest (highest point being 6 m above sea level) and the largest of the islands in the group, with an area of 1.01 km2, followed by Raphael, Avocaré, Cocos Island and Île du Sud. Geographically a separate single coral island, it is located about 18 km north. The main settlement is on Raphael, living by the rhythm of the waves and winds. A privately owned fishing station (with an estimated 35 employees), a coast guard and a meteorological station (of a tiny group of residents) inhabit this island.
The principal base for fishing activities carried out in this area of the Indian Ocean is on this small, yet, abundant island, hence reinforcing the need for its conservation.

Smaller settlements exist on Avocaré, Cocos, and île du Sud, while the settlement on Albatross was abandoned in 1988. L’île du Sud, as its name suggest, lies at the southern entrance of the archipelago. It is this particular location which will give you the impression that l’île du Sud has assumed the role of Cerberus, the mythical three-headed dog, safely guarding the group of islands from outside dangers. Between l’île du Sud and l’île Raphaël, an important economic base of the region, is found l’île Coco on the West.


L’île Coco distinguishes itself by the pristine white nature of its beaches. The infrastructures scattered on this island, among which you will find rails, are all signs of a glorious past.

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