The Saba Bank- A large atoll in the northeastern Caribbean


Abundant coral growth within the Saba Bank is restricted mainly to the two large windward reefs. These two reefs carry a very rich reef fauna.

The rest of the Bank only has a very small growth of corals due to several factors:

  • Most of the food supply is probably filtered away by the large windward reefs.
  • These reefs are located at a least favorable leeward position.
  • These reefs are located at a considerably greater depth.

As in most other atoll lagoons, coral growth in the lagoon area is restricted to small patch reefs; the number of species is not significantly lower than on the reef, but the colonies are smaller in size and number.

The Saba Bank undoubtedly has a volcanic base but no information on this has been collected. This study did uncover some black sand, presumably of volcanic origin, on the southwestern part of the Bank. Geologists believe that a composite volcanic island is buried under the more recent formations.

Only the eastern and largest part of the Saba Bank can be called a living atoll with an open lagoon, while the western part is a bank with drowned fringing reefs.  Whether the western part is included or not, the Saba Bank ranks among the largest atolls in the world.

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