D'Arros and St Joseph
D'Arros island and the adjacent St Joseph’s Atoll are the only privately owned outer islands. D'Arros and St Joseph is situated 255 km WSW from Victoria, Mahé. D'Arros is a flat oval shaped sand cay covering an area of approximately 170 ha, surrounded by sand beaches and an intertidal reef flat covering >100 ha. The island is flat with a maximum elevation of 3 m. It covers 2,253 ha nearly 80 % reef flat and a land area of 122 ha. The island is separated from the St. Joseph Atoll to its north by a 1.1 km wide and 60 m deep channel. The St. Joseph Atoll comprises a ring of 12 islands (139 ha) situated on a broad reef flat (1,774 ha) surrounding a shallow lagoon (480 ha).
D'Arros and St Joseph’s islands were discovered in 1771 by M. de la Boliere during a voyage of exploration from Mauritius and were named after Baron d'Arros, Commandant de la Marine at the Ile de France in 1770-71. In 1882, Coppinger reported that the population of D'Arros was just 11 people, and that they were growing next to nothing but there was a large coconut plantation. Other agricultural plants were said to include papaya, cotton and pumpkin growing in a neglected stated over the island. By 1906, the population had grown to 42 and the islands were jointly yielding 43,000 nuts per month and both copra and oil were being exported. Guano was said to be exploited at one time. In 1963 reserves of remaining guano were put at just 2,200 tonnes and it was suggested it was only of value for local use. The island remained in private ownership. In more recent years there has been heavy emphasis on conservation. Since 2004, D'Arros Research Centre has conducted marine research and terrestrial conservation activities.