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Marine Places

Bahama Banks

The Bahamas is an archipelago of some 700 islands scattered over two limestone platforms, the Little Bahama and Great Bahama Banks, in the West Indies. The platforms have been accumulating for at least 70 million years—the Great Bahama Bank is over 15,000 ft (4,500 m) thick—yet their surfaces remain 33–80 ft (10–25 m) below sea level. Many of the islands have fringing coral reefs; there are also many patch reefs on the Banks and a barrier reef near the island of Andros. The reefs are home to a range of corals and coral reef-dwelling animals that is typical for the western tropical Atlantic. Although local declines in coral cover and occasional outbreaks of coral disease have been recorded, the reefs are generally healthy. There has been concern about overgrowth of algae, but for now the algae are being kept in check by a thriving population of parrotfish, which graze the reefs.

Bahama Bankszoom image
  • Atlantic Ocean West
  • Type Fringing reefs, patch reefs, barrier reef
  • Area 1,200 square miles (3,150 square km)
  • Condition Generally healthy
  • Location Bahamas, southeast of Florida, US, and northeast of Cuba
Bahama Banks habitat mapzoom image