Princess Alice Bank

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The Princess Alice Bank (Portuguese: Banco Princesa Alice) is a submerged seamount that is located 50 nmi (93 km) to the southwest of the island of Pico and 45 nmi (83 km) to the southwest of the island of Faial in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The western area of the bank has a minimum depth of 35 metres (115 ft), with clear waters that allow the observation of the ocean floor from the surface. With an abundance of biodiversity, the Bank is a fishing area, in addition to being an important diving spot of the Atlantic Ocean.


The bank was named after the oceanographic campaign of Albert I, Prince of Monaco, whose research vessel the Princess Alice was involved in its discovery on 9 July 1896. On that day, at 6:00 a.m., at the beginning of a deep water exploration, rocky ledges were discovered at 241 metres (791 ft) deep. After scouring the area, the group discovered an extensive "platform", with a perimeter of about 55 km (34 mi), and two extensions of 76 metres (249 ft) length; the platform was 190 metres (620 ft) below the surface, although the peak is only 35 metres (115 ft) from the surface.

The bathymetric survey was entrusted to captain Charlwood Henry Carr (1848-1918), who was also the prince's field assistant and navigator of the Princesse Alice. It was this official who was responsible for the original depth measurements at the Princess Alice Bank.

On 13 July 13, 1896, from Faial, Alberto I sent a telegram to King Carlos I of Portugal announcing the discovery and informing him of the usefulness of the bank for fishing. Returning to Monaco, on 21 August, the prince circulated a press statement reporting the discovery and stressing its importance to the Azorean fishery. In gratitude for the discovery, King Carlos awarded the prince with the "grand collar" of the Order of Santiago, having already granted Captain Henry Carr the honorific degree of master of the Order of St. Benedict in 1894. Increasingly the Princess Alice Bank has become one of the main areas for fishing exploration within the Central Group of islands.


The area around the bank of 50 nautical miles (93 km), measured from the coasts of the islands, was established by the European Union as a reserve for Azorean fishermen. The Princess Alice Bank is one of the main points of friction, or disagreement, in the current dispute between the Azorean Regional Government and the European Union regarding the reform of the common fisheries policy.

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Coordinates: 37°55′N 31°30′W / 37.917°N 31.500°W / 37.917; -31.500