Pedro Bank

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Pedro Bank
Placer de la Víbora
Submerged bank
Pedro Bank is located in Caribbean
Pedro Bank
Pedro Bank (Caribbean)
AreaNicaragua Rise
Minimum depth20 m

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 (43–98 feet). The total area of the bank within the 100-metre (328-foot) isobath measures 8,040 square kilometres (3,104 square miles). The area of a depth to 40 metres (130 feet) is triangular, 70 kilometres (43 miles) long east-west, and 43 kilometres (27 miles) wide. 2,400 square kilometres (927 square miles) are less than 20 metres (66 feet) deep. With its islets, cays and rocks, a total land area of 270,000 m2 (2,906,256 sq ft), 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 17°06′N 78°20′W / 17.100°N 78.333°W / 17.100; -78.333 (Pedro Bank)Coordinates: 17°06′N 78°20′W / 17.100°N 78.333°W / 17.100; -78.333 (Pedro Bank).

Pedro Bank is a part of submarine Nicaragua Rise, which stretches from Cabo Gracias a Dios through Rosalind Bank to Jamaica.


Pedro Bank was originally named 'Viper Bank', Spanish: Placer de la Víbora,[1] by Spanish mariners because its shallow reefs, rocks and shoals are laid out in the shape of a gigantic serpent.[2] 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.[2]

Pedro Bank was annexed by the United Kingdom in 1863 and added to Jamaica in 1882.

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.[2]

Cays, rocks and reefs[edit]

Pedro Cays, at 17°00′N 77°50′W / 17.000°N 77.833°W / 17.000; -77.833 (Pedro Cays), four small, flat (2 to 5 metres high), low-lying and mostly uninhabited 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.

In a wider sense, some over-water rocks, small outcrops of oolitic limestone over which water breaks, are considered part of the Pedro Cays:

There are several submarine features on Pedro Bank, such as:


External links[edit]

  • 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