Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks

Bathymetric map of Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks showing the sanctuary boundary, as well as other relevant management zones and infrastructure.
Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks are separated by a wide trench in the sea floor. Image: FGBNMS

Bottom Depth Range: 164-571 feet (50-174 meters)

Distance from Land: 124 miles (200 km)

Area: 5.6 square miles (14.5 sq km)

Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks are located approximately 9.3 miles (15 km) due east of East Flower Garden Bank. They are physically connected to MacNeil Bank, to the north, via a ridge feature that continues on to East Flower Garden Bank.

Map of sea floor from East Flower Garden Bank east to Bright Bank showing the connecting ridges between formations
East Flower Garden, MacNeil, Rankin, 28 Fathom, and Bright Banks are structurally connected. Credit: FGBNMS

Rankin Bank is just north of 28 Fathom Bank. The two features are split by a 3,280 foot (1,000 m) wide trough, reaching down about 571 feet (174m). Rankin and 28 Fathom Banks are part of a Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) that also encompasses Bright Bank, and the extensive patch reefs in between the features. These reefs consist of black corals, octocorals, algae, sponges, stony corals, and a variety of invertebrates.

Rankin Bank is named after John L. Rankin of the Minerals Management Service (now BOEM). 28 Fathom Bank is named simply for its depth.

A school of purple fish swimming up and over a dome-shaped rocky formation
A school of fish swarms over a rocky outcrop at Rankin Bank. Photo: FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP
Reddish-purple coralline algae encrusted on rocky outcrops on the sea floor
Colorful coralline algae encrusts parts of the deep reef at 28 Fathom Bank. Photo: FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP
A field of corkscrew shaped whip corals on a muddy bottom. Three groupers swim above the corals.
Groupers swim above a field of whip corals at 28 Fathom Bank. Photo: FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP

Who Was John L. Rankin?

John Rankin (1919-2011), was the first Director of the Gulf of Mexico Region for the Minerals Management Service (now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management). In this capacity, he oversaw the sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico for more than 25 years. In 2000, Rankin was recognized as an Industry Pioneer by the Offshore Energy Center.