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The Bahamas
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The Bahamas

February 19, 2009
The shallow aqua waters of the Bahamas stand out in this image, captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on February 12, 2009. The Bahamas, an independent country located in the Atlantic Ocean off the southeastern coast of the United States, just north of Cuba, which is visible in the lower left corner. This archipelago consists of some seven hundred islands and two thousand cays. All of the islands are very low and flat.

Near image center, Andros Island is surrounded by the bright blue halo of Great Bahama Bank. The Great Bahama Bank is a coral reef limestone platform that was slowly inundated by rising sea levels between 10,000 and 2500 years ago, as the last ice age glaciers were melting. In most places the water above the shelf doesn't exceed 6 meters. The white limestone under the shallow waters is what causes the bright blue halo. The margins of the shelf can drop off steeply - for example on the Atlantic Ocean side (right of the island in this image), a nearly vertical drop to depths of 4000 meters explains the thinness of the blue perimeter, while on the western side, the shelf is much wider.


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