17. The Great Andros Barrier Reef: The Enigmatic Isle

The Great Andros Barrier Reef is situated right next to the “Tongue of the Ocean,” a deep U-shaped trench that measures some 3,500 feet deep and 20 miles wide.

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Andros Island is made up of hundreds of very tiny islets and three major islands: North Andros, South Andros, and Mangrove Cay Island. These three island areas are separated by what are called “bights” or estuaries.

This very deep oceanic trench is where we will find Great Andros Barrier reef, where the “tongue” separates Andros Island from New Providence Island.

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The coral reefs on Andros Island are fringing barrier reefs that lie to the east of the island in the Bahamas.  It is the second largest reef complex in the North Atlantic and is also the most remote coral reef to access.

The coral reef here is about 124 miles long. The reefs are divided into five major zones: the outer fore reef, the inner fore reef, the back reef, the lagoon, and the reef crest zones.

The ocean only opens at the very northern tip of the Andros Island, and the rest of the waters here are inhabited by corals and shoals.

Still Pristine

The Andros Coral Reefs, unlike the other Bahamian Islands, is still marvelously pristine and untouched by commercial development.  The island is lush, and filled with beautiful species of plants, including some fifty species of orchids. Tourists come here because the beauty of the island rivals the beauty of its waters and reefs as well.

The reefs here are known for their stunning breathtaking “drops” – cliffs of corals that descend deep into the seas that divers adore diving and being photographed in. In fact, there are drops in these reefs of six thousand feet.

Blue Holes

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Divers come to explore the infamous “blue holes” as well. Blue holes are underwater cave systems that are very intricate, and they wind all underneath the sea floor and the islands. These caves are heavily populated with stalactites and sea creatures of all kinds. In fact, they are a true aquatic underworld all of their own that is full of a haunting aura of deep blue mystery.

Some of these blue holes are very deep and only very skilled divers can dive them because of the “sucking” under currents that are experienced at certain times of day. These currents might scare the first-time diver quite badly.

The Andros Reef is an exceptional reef in that it defies any true classification that other reefs fall into. It is not a true fringing reef in that it does not connect directly to the shore, and it is not a true barrier reef in that it is situated in such shallow waters and sits so close to shore.

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