Princess Alice Bank

The Princess Alice Bank, or "Banco Princesa Alice" as it is called in Portuguese, is a submergedseamount that is located 50 nautical miles (92.6 km) to the southwest of Pico Island and 45 nautical miles (83.3 km) to the southwest of Faial Island in the Azores. The bank has a minimum depth of 35 m (114.8 ft), located in its western zone. With clear waters that allow the observation of the ocean floor from the surface and an enormous biodiversity, the Bank, in addition to being an excellent fishing spot, is one of the important diving spots of the Atlantic Ocean.

History

The bank is named after the oceanographic campaign held on July 9, 1896 by Albert I, Prince of Monaco, on board his research vessel the "Princesse Alice". On that day, at 6:00 a.m., when starting an investigation of deep waters, rocky ledges were discovered 241 m (790.7 ft) deep. After scouring the area, the group discovered an extensive "platform", with a perimeter of about 55 km (34.2 miles), with the two extreme points of 76 m (249.3 ft) and 190 m (623.4 ft) below the surface (today it is known that the peak is only 35 meters [114.8 ft] from the surface).

The carrying out of the bathymetric survey was entrusted to the captain, Charlwood Henry Carr (1848-1918), who was also field assistant to the prince and the navigator for the "Princesse Alice". This official is responsible for the original measurements of the depths of Princess Alice Bank.

On July 13, from Faial Island, Alberto I sent a telegram to King Carlos I of Portugal announcing the discovery and informing him of the usefulness of the bank for fishing. Once at Monaco, August 21, the prince circulated a press statement reporting the discovery and stressing the importance of the discovery for Azorean fisheries (indicating that vessels had already been equipped for doing so) and for international navigation.

In gratitude for the discovery, King Carlos awarded the prince with the "grand collar" of the Order of Santiago, having already granted in 1894 to Captain Henry Carr the honorific degree of master of the Order of St. Benedict.

Since that time Princess Alice Bank has increasingly become one of the main fishing sites for the fishermen of the islands of the Central Group of the Azores, especially for the islands of Pico and Faial.

The area around the bank of 50 nautical miles, measured from the coasts of the islands, was established by the European Union as a reserve for Azorean fishermen. The Princess Alice Bank is one of the main points of friction, or disagreement, in the current dispute between the Azorean Regional Government and the European Union regarding the reform of the common fisheries policy.

External links

* [http://www.horta.uac.pt/scubazores/Alice/ Dive at Princess Alice Bank]
* [http://www.oceano.org/mc/collections/page1col.htm The ships of Albert I, including the "Princesse Alice"]
* [http://www.horta.uac.pt/port/index.html Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas (DOP) da Universidade dos Açores - "Department of Oceanography and Fisheries of the University of the Azores"]


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