San Salvador Island has been a popular destination for numerous academic groups wishing to study modern subtropical shallow marine biotas and Pleistocene-Holocene carbonate depositional systems.


As the sign in the photo above indicates, San Salvador Island was Christopher Columbus’ first landfall in the New World.  Researchers hired by National Geographic have thrown doubt on this long-standing claim - they consider Rum Cay to be Columbus’ first landfall.  However, available geographic, archaeological, and historical evidence are consistent with San Salvador being Columbus’ first landfall (it wasn’t Rum Cay).  Even a casual reading of Columbus’ journal indicates that the geographic descriptions of the 1st island he visited are not consistent with Rum Cay.  Three separate monuments on the island claim to mark the spot of 1st landfall.


San Salvador is a north-south elongated island (~12-13 miles long, ~6-7 miles wide) on a small isolated carbonate platform in the eastern Bahamas Archipelago.  The Bahamas consist of the Great Bahama Bank (Andros, Bimini, New Providence, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, Great Exuma, Ragged Island, Exuma Cays), the Little Bahama Bank (Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands), plus several, smaller, isolated carbonate platforms (San Salvador, Rum Cay, Crooked Island, Acklins Island, Mayaguana, Great Inagua, and the Turks & Caicos).  Some aerial photos of a few islands in the Grand Bahama Bank.



  1999 topo. map of San Salvador Island (provided by the University of New Haven)


  More info. on San Salvador Island


  Some literature on San Salvador geology & marine biology (1977-2010)





San Sal kids using me as a diving board at Hanna Bay.



  Landfall of Christopher Columbus

  Watling’s Castle

  Bahamian Field Station


  Shoreline Features


  Organisms in the water 1 (algae)

  Organisms in the water 2 (invertebrates)

  Organisms in the water 3 (vertebrates)

  Seashells from San Salvador Island


  Bedrock geology


  Trace fossils


  Caves & Karst


  Inland Ponds and Lakes




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