Terrestrial and Marine Ecology of Etoile, Amirantes, Seychelles
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The Amirantes group, Seychelles, comprises 24 islands and islets lying between 5° and 6° south of the equator on the Amirantes Bank, western Indian Ocean. The islands were discovered by the Portuguese navigator Vasco de Gama on his second voyage to India in 1502, soon after acceding to the rank of Admiral, and the islands were subsequently named Ilhas do Almirante or Admiral’s Islands (Lionnet, 1970). The group extends over a distance of 138 km, from African Banks in the north to Desnoeufs in the south. Etoile is one of the two sand cays which rises up from the Banc de la Boudeuse, approximately 30 km south-west of Poivre atoll. The other sand cay, Boudeuse, lies 30 km southwest of Etoile. Etoile is believed to have been named by Chevalier du Roslan in 1771, after one of the two ships of Bougainville’s round the world voyage from 1766 to 1769. Due to its small size (and thus its probable lack of economically significant guano deposits), the fact that the sea is reportedly often rough around this shallow bank and the difficulty of getting ashore, the island has never been inhabited. It is designated as a bird reserve.
A collaborative expedition between Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit and Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology – Marine Parks Authority to the southern Seychelles was conducted onboard M.Y. Golden Shadow, from 10th – 28th January 2005. The primary aim of the expedition was to use a CASI (Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager) sensor onboard a seaplane to conduct large-scale mapping of the southern Amirantes, Alphonse/St. François (Spencer et al., 2009) and Providence Bank. All surveys at Etoile were conducted on 25th January 2005.