Caicos Islands. Photographed by the crew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, this detailed scene of East Caicos Island highlights the shallow tropical waters typical of the Bahamas region. The contrast between the light blue shallow water and dark blue deep water marks a sharp difference (hundreds of meters) in water depth. The shallow marine regions include sand bars and tidal channels (just right of center). The coastline of the island is low and swampy, and is also greatly influenced by the tides. Further offshore, the darker regions in the slightly deeper water mark sea grass and algae beds. This sensitive submarine environment can be mapped from space because the waters are so clear. Chains of clouds forming off islands and headlands, mark the downwind direction.

NASA Photo ID: STS073-702-051JOHNSON

Date Taken: 1995