Fregate Island is the easternmost of the granitic Inner Islands of the Seychelles. It is home to the exclusive Fregate Island Private luxury resort, with just 17 secluded villas amidst three square kilometres of pristine nature. Known as a mini Galapagos in the Seychelles, the island has a long conservation history for its terrestrial environment with notable achievements such as saving the Magpie Robin from extinction, and contributing to the development of the Aldabra tortoise colony, which has increased in size from a few dozen to nearly 3,500 today. With great success on land, the conservation team of Fregate Island Private began their focus on the surrounding marine environment, especially in terms of the distribution of organisms within the fringe coral reef.
In 2018, as part of its long-standing Ocean Commitment program, Blancpain initiated an experimental coral restoration project on Fregate Island in collaboration with Fregate Island Private and Coralive.org. Eight hundred storm-derived coral fragments (corals of opportunity) were transplanted onto eight artificial structures situated at depths between 5 and 7m. Four of these structures use the Mineral Accretion Technology (MAT), a method that applies safe, low voltage electrical currents through seawater, causing dissolved minerals to crystallise on structures, growing into a white limestone similar to that which naturally makes up coral reefs and tropical white sand beaches. The second group of four structures is not electrified in order to act as control. The project provides valuable research data, offering a unique possibility to measure in the same area the efficiency of MAT compared to classical techniques.
To advance understanding of the marine life around Fregate Island, in 2019 Blancpain, Coralive.org, and Fregate Island Private associated with BlueNomads.org, the Green Islands Foundation, the University of the Seychelles, and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust to establish a coral reef biodiversity baseline. More than 700 Hectares of seabed were scanned using state-of-the-art technology to document the health, rigidity, and benthic assemblage of the reef. Collected images were then mosaicked to produce a detailed 3D underwater habitat map of corals, sand, rocks, and rubble surrounding Fregate. The gathered data will serve as the basis for a long-term monitoring program of the marine area around the island to study trends in the structure of reef fish and coral communities through year-by-year comparison. Ultimately, the objective is to support discussions on the creation of a new marine protected area around the island.