Parker Bank

Bathymetric map of Parker Bank showing two sanctuary boundary lines, as well as other relevant management zones and infrastructure.
Parker Bank is a shelf-edge bank. Two separate sections of Parker Bank are part of the sanctuary. Credit: FGBNMS

Bottom Depth Range: 190-387 feet (58-118 meters)

Distance from Land: 99 miles (159 km)

Area: 7.0 square miles (18.1 sq km)

Parker Bank includes significant mesophotic habitat that is dominated by black corals, octocorals, fish, sponges, algae and invertebrates. A large field of abundant Hypnogorgia/Muricea octocorals was encountered during ROV surveys, as well as high relief ridges providing plenty of habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Parker Bank is named after Frances L. Parker, an oceanographer from Scripps. This is the only significant bank in the region that is named after a woman.

A large white gorgonian with basket stars curled up in its branches
Hypnogorgia/Muricea octocorals are abundant at Parker Bank. Photo: FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP
Two marbled groupers swimming over deep habitat interspersed with small black corals
Marbled Grouper are occasionally seen at Parker Bank. Photo: FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP
Leafy green algae, bushy black corals and skinny white sea whips cover the sea floor along with a few sponges. Small reef fish school just above.
Some of the black corals at Parker Bank are fairly large. Photo: FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP

Who Was Frances L. Parker?

Frances Lawrence Parker (1906-2002) was a paleogeologist who studied and classified benthic and planktonic foraminifera, publishing numerous papers on the subject. Much of her work received global recognition and proved crucial to understanding ocean core samples and their significance in locating oil and gas reserves.

While most of her career was spent working with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, she also worked as a paleontologist with Shell Oil in Houston, TX for a brief time in the 1940s. In the 1950s, she published a series of studies on foraminifera from the Gulf of Mexico.