Bahamas - January 2nd, 2012
This image shows several islands of the Bahamas. The water around them appears bright blue as the islands sit atop huge limestone platforms known as the Bahama Banks, and the depth of the water above these platforms is quite shallow. The water abruptly turns dark blue in color where the platforms suddenly drop off to great depths.
Visible near the bottom edge in the lower left quadrant is Andros Island, an archipelago within the Bahamas, and the largest of the 26 inhabited Bahamian Islands. Geo-politically considered a single island, Andros has an area greater than all the other 700 Bahamian islands combined. The land area of Andros consists of hundreds of small islets and cays connected by mangrove estuaries and tidal swamp lands, together with three major islands—North Andros, Mangrove Cay, and South Andros. The three main islands are separated by “bights”, estuaries which trifurcate the island, connecting the island’s east and west coasts. It is 104 miles (167 km) long by at its widest 40 miles (64 km) wide.
Noteworthy for a unique combination of marine features and ecosystems, Andros rests on the west side of the 6000 foot (3+ km) deep Tongue of the Ocean. The Andros Barrier Reef is the world’s third longest after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Central American Belize Barrier Reef, runs for 142 miles (225 km) averaging a distance of only 1–2 miles from the Andros shore. The extensive flats of the Great Bahama Bank lie to the west, northwest and south of Andros.
Visible to the north of Andros Island is Grand Bahama, one of the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, and the closest major island to the United States, lying 90 km off the state of Florida. Grand Bahama is the fifth largest island in the Bahamas island chain of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 cays. The island is approximately 150 km long west to east and 20 km at its widest point north to south. North and east of Grand Bahama lie the Abaco Islands.