Bright Bank

Color bathymetric map of Bright Bank
Bright Bank lies to the east of Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks and is part of the same HAPC

Bottom Depth Range: 95-400 feet (29-122 meters)

Bright Bank is located approximately 14.5 km (9 mi) east of Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks, but is structurally connected by a series of patch reefs. It is approximately 6.3 km (4 mi) wide in an east-west direction and 5.8 km (3.6 mi) wide in a north-south direction. The bank is shaped somewhat like a lion’s paw, with its crestaround 34.4 m (113 ft) under water.

In the shallower areas, historic records report boulder-like reef structures 1.5 m (4.9 ft) or less in height and 1-2 m (3-6.5 ft) in diameter, occurring singly or clustered into reef patches up to 50 m (164 ft) in diameter. 

Hard coral covers part of a rocky outcropping, while the rest is covered in algae and sponges
Only a small amount of coral reef habitat remains on the crest of Bright Bank, as a result of treasure hunters using explosives to excavate

In the 1980’s, treasure salvage operators laid claim to a supposed Spanish Galleon on Bright Bank, and salvors have been exploiting/exploring the bank since that time.  This has caused tremendous destruction to the coral boulders on the crest of the bank and left excavation pits 3-4 m (10-13 ft) deep.   Currently no federal laws prohibit this type of activity.

Metal poles stick out of a large hole that was blasted in the reef
An excavation pit left by treasure hunters in search of a Spanish Galleon at Bright Bank

The deeper areas (>50 m or 164 ft) at Bright Bank include extensive coralline algae and deep coral habitat, including some hard corals. Extensive fields of algae (Codium sp.) have also been documented.

A cluster of intertwined thick-stemmed pea-green algae
Fields of Codium algae have been noted at Bright Bank

Bright Bank is part of the Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) that also encompasses Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks, and the extensive area of patch reefs in between these features.

On the right, a feathery crinoid is anchored to the substrate with feet that look like plant roots. On the left, several green bottle brush corals and some pink fish are visible.
A crinoid clings to the substrate near some black corals in deep habitat at Bright Bank