SABA – Saba Bank – a submerged coral reef atoll in the Dutch Caribbean, which was designated a protected area in 2010 – has just received a brand new and exceptional recognition: At a recent International Maritime Organization meeting the Saba Bank was designated as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, one of only 13 in the world.
Saba Bank is enormous in size and value. At 2,679 km2, it is the fifth largest marine protected area in the Wider Caribbean after the Seaflower Marine Protected Area (Colombia) with 65,000 km2; the Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic with 25,000 km2; the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (USA) with 9,840 km2; and the Alacranes Reef National Park (Mexico) with 3,338 km2.
Rising from the Caribbean seafloor of about 1,800 m (~5905 ft) the average depth of the Bank is about 25 m (~82 ft). New species of fish, gorgonians and seaweeds have been discovered on the Bank. It is also a safe haven for migrating whales and a large foraging ground for sea turtles. This area is not only the richest area of the Dutch Kingdom in terms of biodiversity, but perhaps of the entire Caribbean. The Saba Bank is now managed by the Saba Conservation Foundation and is the focus of research coordinated by the Dutch Ministry of Economics, Agriculture and Innovation.