from the southwest
|Area||3.24 km2 (1.25 sq mi)|
|Outer Islands||Amirante Islands|
It is located 230 km southwest of Mahé, the Seychelles' main island. It is 6.2 km long and has a land area of 3.24 km2. Along its circumference of 15 km is a beach of fine sand. Conservation on the island is managed by Island Conservation Society.
Desroches was named by Chevalier de Roslan, commander of the ship L'Heure du Berger, after the Chevalier des Roches, the Governor of Isle de France (now Mauritius) and Réunion (then Bourbon) from 1767 to 1772. It was explored by the Chevalier de la Billioère in 1771. The British had originally named it Wood Island because of its dense tree vegetation. The island was an important producer of copra.
Along with the remaining Amirante Islands, Desroches had been a part of the Seychelles since it became a separate colony in 1909. On November 8, 1965, the United Kingdom split Desroches from the Seychelles to become part of the newly created British Indian Ocean Territory together with Farquhar, Aldabra and the Chagos Archipelago, but returned it to the Seychelles with the first two. The purpose was to allow the construction of military facilities for the mutual benefit of the United Kingdom and the United States. On June 23, 1976, Desroches was returned to Seychelles as a result of it attaining independence.
Desroches has a population of about 50, a settlement in the middle of the northwestern shore (looking to the lagoon), a small luxury hotel with 20 rooms in the south (Desroches Island Resort), built in 1988 and a paved airstrip 1,372 metres (4,501 ft) long in the southern part. It is located 36 km (22 mi) east of the Amirantes Bank, and separated from it by water over 1,300 metres (4,265 ft) deep. It lies on the southern edge of a reef of atoll character. At the northern edge of the atoll are the Shark Rocks, with least depths between 3 to 6 m (10 to 20 ft). There is a lighthouse on the northeast end of the Desroches Island. The island is fringed by a drying reef which extends 1.6 km (1.0 mi) offshore from the northeastern extremity and 0.8 km (0.5 mi) from the southwestern extremity. The island is low and is covered with coconut palms and tall hardwood trees. A deep channel, about 1.6 km (1.0 mi) wide, leads into the lagoon. The least depth in the channel is 18.3 m (60 ft), and it crosses the atoll in a position about 11 km (7 mi) northwest of Desroches.
Flora and Fauna
In 2007, Island Conservation Society opened a conservation centre on the island, employing full-time staff.
There are no endemic land birds, only introduced species. Around the hotel and village there are populations of house sparrows and zebra doves and in the woods Madagascar fodies and the more retiring grey francolin. Much of the island is covered in coconut trees but well-wooded pockets of forest remain. The long, encircling beach and beach-crest of Desroches are of national importance for both green turtle and hawksbill turtle, particularly on the south and northeast coasts. The only known endemic of the Amirantes, a species of cockroach Delosia ornata, is found here.
Small numbers of wedge-tailed shearwaters breed despite the presence of rats.
- Carpin, Sarah,(1998) Seychelles, Odyssey Guides, p.159, The Guidebook Company Limited, Retrieved on June 22, 2008
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