Home South Seas Companion

Home | Browse | Search | Previous | Next
Be a South Seas Companion Supporter


The Abrolhos archipelago is a group of coral reefs, five volcanic islands and sandbanks about 70 kilometers off the coast of the state of Bahia, in Southeast Brazil.

The Abrolhos are located on the northern end of the Abrolhos Bank, which is an extension of the South American continental shelf. The continental shelf is irregular and narrow, with an average width of 50 kilometers. However, the Abrolhos bank extends some 200 Kilometers into the Atlantic.

The reefs of the Abrolhos form two arcs that occupy a total area of approximately 6,000 square kilometers.

The continental shelf is very shallow in the vicinity of the Abrolhos reefs. The sea is never more than 30 meters in depth, and between the coastal reefs and the coastline the seas can be less than 15 meters deep.

The waters of the Brazil current flow from north to south over the Abrolhos Bank.

There is a channel of 20-30 meters (the Abrolhos Channel) that runs between the coastal reefs and the Abrolhos Archipelago. However, there are shoals and isolated coral formations on the westerly side of the Archipelago and sandbars lie off the mouths of coastal rivers.

The Abrolhos posed grave dangers for European voyagers. More than likely it explains why they were called Abrolhos, a name that derives from the Portuguese words for ‘open eyes’.


Prepared by: Turnbull, P.
Created: 15 October 2001
Modified: 20 March 2004

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000072

[ Top of page | South Seas Companion Home | Browse | Search ]