Caribbean Expedition: Survey 8
The Bahamas is an archipelago east of the Florida Keys, made up of more than 700 islands stretching over 1,225 kilometres from north to south. The word Bahamas is from Spanish descent and means “shallow water”. However, these shallow waters of around 10 metres depth surrounding the islands are bounded by extremely deep water, up to 4,000 metres deep which makes this a very interesting place to survey.
Reef development in much of the Bahamas is naturally limited by the exposure to hurricanes of the windward sites, by unusually cold winters in the northern islands, and by turbid, high salinity waters on many leeward bank margins. Nevertheless, there are thousands of small patch reefs, dozens of narrow fringing reefs and some bank barrier reefs, such as the Andros Barrier Reef, which is the third largest barrier reef in the world.