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Generally speaking, the Bahama Banks are the submerged limestone platforms that make up much of the Bahama Archipelago. The Great Bahama Bank, however, refers specifically to the platform around Andros Island.
The waters of the banks are very shallow, often no deeper than 25 meters (80 feet). However, the slopes around them fall steeply into the ocean. In past ice ages, when sea levels were lower than they are today, these banks were dry land. Hence, the area of the Bahamas today represents only a small fraction of their prehistoric size.
While the banks were exposed to the atmosphere, the limestone structure experienced rain, wind and wear. This created caves and sinkholes, including the blue holes prized by photographers.
Shelves of rock cradle these azure waters, keeping them warm year-round. Further, the limestone features provide hiding places for sea life. As well as visual interest for snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. Atlantic spotted dolphins, lemon sharks, and tiger sharks live in the waters offshore.