Grand Turk Island
An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Grand Turk Island, situated on the southern end of the Bahamas archipelago in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Grand Turk Island is just 10 kilometres (6 miles) long, and much of the island is occupied by Cockburn Town (population about 5,000), the capital of Turks and Caicos.
Much of the land surface is covered by reddish-brown salt evaporation ponds and a saline lake known as Town Pond, around which Cockburn Town developed. The town was established in 1766 to support the growing salt industry. McCartney Airport, on the southern end of the island, is the largest airport.
Grand Turk sits on a large carbonate bank, which is almost double the size of the island. Waves breaking against the carbonate platform appear as a white line along the left margin of the image. The complex patterns on the east coast of Grand Turk (top of the image) are a fraction of a vast reef ecosystem that stretches discontinuously for nearly 1000 kilometres, as far as the northern Bahamas.
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Credit: NASA Earth Observatory