Pedro Bank is a large bank of sand and coral, partially covered with seagrass, about 80 km south and southwest of Jamaica, rising steeply from a seabed of 800 metres depth. It slopes gently from Pedro Cays to the west and north with depths from 13 to 30 metres. The total area of the bank within the 100 metre isobath measures 8 040 km². The area of a depth to 40 metres is triangular, 70 km long east-west, and 43 km wide. 2 400 km² are less than 20 m deep. With its islets, cays and rocks, a total land area of 270,000 m², it is the location of one of the two offshore island groups of Jamaica, the other one being the Morant Cays (Jamaica also has nearshore islands like the Port Royal Cays). The bank is centered at Coordinates: .
Pedro Bank was annexed by the United Kingdom in 1863 and added to Jamaica in 1882.
Pedro Bank was originally named La Vibora (the Viper) by Spanish mariners because its shallow reefs, rocks and shoals are laid out in the shape of a gigantic serpent. It was once a busy and treacherous shipping passage used by seafaring Europeans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; archaeologists estimate there are over 300 shipwrecks on the Bank.
Today the Bank is known for its economic and cultural importance; it is the main harvesting ground for Queen Conch in the Caribbean and is highly valued by Jamaica’s fishing community who have been operating on the Bank and using its small Cays as a base since the 1920s.
Cays, rocks and reefs
Pedro Cays, at cays, lie about midway along the southern edge of the eastern half of Pedro Bank. The sparse land vegetation consists of six species of plants, none of which are endemic. The cays are regionally important seabird nesting and roosting areas (masked boobies, roseate terns and others) and also provide several endangered turtle species such as hawksbills and loggerheads with nesting grounds. The islets yield some guano and coconuts. More importantly, they represent the primary harvesting area for the largest export of Queen Conch from the Caribbean region. They were occupied by the British in 1863 and made part of Jamaica in 1882. They are considered part of the parish of Kingston, for all purposes except taxes., four small, flat (2 to 5 metres high), low-lying and mostly uninhabited
- Northeast Cay (Top Cay), 75,000 m², at beacon in the north. , is covered with brush and has a group of palm trees growing on its northwest side. There is a lighted
- Middle Cay, 40,000 m², at Coast Guard station and a fishermen's camp with number of huts and a large shed are in the southeast. is covered with low grass and bushes. A Jamaican
- Southwest Cay (Bird Cay), 152,000 m², at , the largest of the Pedro Cays, is a protected bird sanctuary, with a large tree.
- South Cay (Sandy Cay), 2,000 m², at , consists of coral and shells. This is the southernmost point of land of Jamaica.
- Portland Rock (also called Eastern Pedro Cay), at SSW of Portland Point, the southern extremity of Jamaica. The rock consists of two summits that lie in an east-west direction. , lies about 63 km
- Blower Rock, at , lies 8 km southwest of Portland Rock, and is 0.6 m high.
- Shannon Rock, at WSW of Blower Rock. It is 0.5 m high. , lies about 15 km
There are several submarine features on Pedro Bank, such as:
- Banner Reef, at , awash and 2.4 km long, lies 26 km WSW of South Cay.
- Southwest Rock, at , lies about 9 km southwest of Banner Reef.
- Willsteed Rock, at , with a depth of 12, lies 13 km northwest of Blower Rock.
- Doyle Shoal, at NNW of Blower Rock. , with a depth of 14 m, lies 13 km
- Powell Knoll, at Alice Shoal, which is claimed by Jamaica but considered part of Colombia. , lies 32 km southwest of Shannon Rock, with a lowest depth of 28.8 m. It is the southernmost feature of Jamaica, not counting
- Assessing Coral reefs in Jamaica, Nathalie Zenny
- Sailing Directions, Caribbean Sea, Vol. I
- Gazetteer: Geographic Names of Jamaica
- Pedro Bank and Cays Management Area
- "Island Directory". UN System-Wide Earthwatch.
- Nature Conservancy: Pedro Bank
- Article on Reef Assessment on Pedro Bank