|Native name: Saint Brandon|
|Major islands||Albatross Island, Raphael, Avocaré, Cocos Island and Île du Sud|
|Area||1.3 km2 (0.50 sq mi)|
|Largest settlement||Île Raphael (pop. 40)|
|Population||63 (transient) (2009)|
|Pop. density||48 /km2 (124 /sq mi)|
Saint Brandon, also known as the Cargados Carajos shoals, is an Indian Ocean archipelago about 430 km to the northeast of Mauritius consisting of a number of sand banks, shoals and islets. It forms part of the Mascarene Plateau. The Mascarene plateau is a submarine plateau in the Indian Ocean, north and east of Madagascar which is the second largest undersea plateau in the Indian Ocean after the Kerguelen Plateau. Saint Brandon consists of five groups of in total 22 islands or islets, with an aggregate land area no greater than about half a square mile and prone to substantial submersion in severe weather. Their practical utility lies in the fishing on the very extensive shallow bank covering some 900 square miles around them. Most of the isles, by the early 19th century, were in use as fishing stations.
These outer islands are part of the Mauritia (microcontinent) have a total land area of approximately 1.3 km², belong to Mauritius and are administered by the Outer Island Development Corporation (OIDC). The Outer Island Development Corporation (OIDC) is responsible for the management and development of the Outer Islands. "Outer Islands" are defined as the islands comprised in the State of Mauritius other than the Islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues. The OIDC reports to the Prime Minister’s Office. Some of the outer islands were deemed to have been a permanent grant to the Raphael Fishing Company Ltd., under a judgment delivered by the Lords of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on 30 July 2008.  
The reef measures more than 50 km from north to south, and is 5 km wide, cut by three passes. The reef area is 190 km². The islands have a small transient population, mostly fishermen, 63 in number on census night (Census of 2001). The majority of the population (~40) lives on Île Raphael, with smaller settlements existing on Avocaré, Coco, and Île du Sud. A former settlement existed on Albatross Island, but was abandoned in 1988. The islands are rich in flora and fauna but on some isles the latter have been severely affected by the uncontrolled presence of rats. They are classified as a dependency of Mauritius, which is more than 300 km to the south, and are administered from Port Louis. Cargados Carajos is part of the Mascarene Islands.
In the past, Cargados Carajos was a large, volcanic island (part of the Mascarenes, caused by the Réunion hotspot). Over time however, the island eroded until it became submerged and a coral atoll was left behind.
Individual islets on the reef include, roughly north to south, the following:
- Albatross Island (1.01 km²)
- Îlot du Nord (North Island)
- Île Raphael
- Îlot Siren
- Île Tortue (0.13 km²)
- Pearl Islet (Île Perle)
- Île du Sud (South Island)
- Avocaré Island (Avoquer) (0.02 km²)
- Petite Capitane
- Grande Capitane
- Mapare Islet (0.4 km²)
- Frigate Islet (Île Frégate)
- Îlote du Paul
- Puits A Eau
- Baleine Rocks
- Île Veronge (Verronge)
- Veronge Ilot
- Île Poulailer
- Palm Islet
- Coco Island (Île aux Cocos) (0.5 km²)
A number of unnamed islands and sand cays complete the Cargados. The total number of islands on the reef is close to 40.
Siren Island, Île du Sud, Pearl Island (Île Perle), and Frigate Island (Île Frégate) are west of the reef, while North Island (Île du Nord) is about 4 km northeast of the northern tip of the reef.
Albatross Island, about 18 km north, is geographically a separate single coral island at location 16°15'S, 59°35'E.
Albatross Island is the highest (its highest point is 6 m above sea level) and the largest of the islands in the group, with an area of 1.01 km², followed by Raphael, Tortue, Avocaré, Coco Island and Île du Sud.
The main settlement is on Île Raphael, comprising a privately owned commercial fishing station (with a minimum of 35 resident employees) and a coast guard and meteorological station (with eight residents in 1996). Smaller settlements exist on Avocaré, Coco, and Sud; the settlement on Albatross was abandoned in 1988.
The islands are covered with white granular sand from eroded coral, and a thick layer of guano can be found in most places. Sea turtles take advantage of the low population of the islands and lay eggs on their beaches.
The reefs of Mauritius have been overfished and have suffered from the effects of tourism and other development. Mauritius plans to establish two marine reserves of coral reefs that were proposed for protection in 1974. This may demonstrate the pace of protection of natural resources in the area, slowed by the complications of new independence.
On some isles, rats, rabbits and chicken are damaging the native fauna which consist mainly of turtles and birds and it is unclear how much longer the archipelago will remain a refuge without international protection. The Mauritius economy is among the world's fastest growing. However, there is pressure to increase tourism. Sugar, introduced by the French, is Mauritius's main crop and represents 17% of the country's exports, but the price of sugar is dropping and increased tourism is seen as an important way to diversify the economy.
In 2011, The Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development issued the "Mauritius Environment Outlook Report" which stated that "There is an urgent need to allocate more resources for a closer monitoring of the environmental assets of the islands." It further recommended that St Brandon be declared a Marine Protected Area.
The atoll may have been discovered in the 7th century by Arabian sailors. It was named in 1506 by Portuguese sailors who put ashore for provisioning on their way to India. In 1598, the Dutch occupied the islands. The islands became a French protectorate in 1722 and passed into British hands in 1810.
The St. Brandon archipelago was surveyed by British colonial authorities on 31 March 1911 as part of the Census of Mauritius. This found a total population of 110, made up of 97 men (86 non-Indian and 11 Indian) and 13 women (10 non-Indian and 3 Indian). While the archipelago likely had a resident population at this point, as indicated by the 8 children under the age of 15 and the 5 people over the age of 60, there was also likely a seasonal component, with the largest population segment being men between 20 and 35. 73 men worked in fishing, 11 at the guano mines and 4 were ship's carpenters. Only one (male) person was recorded as having been born on St. Brandon.
The 1911 census reported that three of St. Brandon's 39 houses were built of stone and eight of wood, with 28 built of thatch. Most of these were single-room dwellings, but 10 had two rooms and one had three. There were also eight shops or stores and a one-room chapel.
Ten years later, the population had plummeted to just 22, as reported by the 1921 census. There were 21 were men (ages 19–48) and just one woman, a married Catholic, aged 31. 14 people were identified as part of the "general population", with 11 of them born on Mauritius, one on Rodrigues and two in the Seychelles. In addition, there were 3 Indo-Mauritanians and 5 "other Indians" from Madras, Calcutta and Colombo.
The most common employment on St. Brandon in 1922 was agriculture, with a manager, assistant manager and 11 labourers. Only two young men were recorded as working as fishermen. Three men worked as carpenters, one as a mason, one as a shoemaker and another as a domestic servant. There was no indication that the guano mines were operating.
In 2011, The Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development issued the "Mauritius Environment Outlook Report" which stated that "For the Outer Islands of (..) St. Brandon, major improvements are required to promote development, environmental protection and judicious use of natural resources.
Shipwrecks on the low-lying, rocky reefs of St. Brandon have been recorded since as early as 1662.
On 15 September 1845, the sailing ship Letitia ran aground on Frigate islet.
On October 3 l969, the Russian tugboat Argus itself on the reef at St. Brandon. 38 men were rescued by local fishermen.
On November 29, 2014, during the second leg of the 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race, the sailboat Team Vestas Wind ran aground on St. Brandon. The crew was safely rescued, and a complicated salvage operation succeeded in removing the wreck from the reef.
On February 1 2015, the fishing vessel Kha Yang, with 250,000 litres of fuel in its tanks, ran aground on the reef of St. Brandon. 20 crew were rescued shortly after its grounding, and a salvage operation pumped the fuel from its tanks a few weeks later.
|1861||35||All were men.|
|1871||9||All were men.|
|1881||6||All were men.|
|1901||87||85 men and 2 women. 54 men and one woman were from the "general population"; 29 men were Indo-Mauritanians, and two men and one woman were "other Indians"|
|1921||22||14 people were identified as part of the "general population", with 3 Indo-Mauritanians and 5 "other Indians". 21 were men and just one was a woman.|
|1931||61||All were men, of whom nine were married and one was an ethnic Indian. Fishing was the occupation of 59 of the men, while two were domestic servants. Most were Catholics, but one Muslim lived on the island.|
|1944||93||All were men, two of them ethnic Indians, and the remainder of the "general population".|
|1952||136||124 men (one of whom was ethnically Chinese) and 12 women.|
|2000||0||63||63||No permanent residents. Only transient population.|
|2011||0||No permanent residents. Transient population not reported.|
- Privy Council Judgment 30 July 2008 - Raphaël Fishing Company Ltd.,
- Le bail permanent de Raphaël Fishing confirmé sur St.-Brandon
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