Macclesfield Bank is an elongated sunken atoll of underwater reefs and shoals in the South China Sea. It lies east of the Paracel Islands, southwest of the Pratas Islands and north of the Spratly Islands. Its length exceeds 130 km (81 mi) southwest-northeast, with a maximal width of more than 70 km (43 mi). With an ocean area of 6,448 km2 (2,490 sq mi) within the outer rim of the reef, although completely submerged without any emergent cays or islets, it is one of the largest atolls of the world. The Macclesfield Bank is part of what China calls the Zhongsha Islands, which includes a number of geographically separate submarine features, and also refers to a county-level administrative division.
Other names: Middle Sand Islands
|Location||South China Sea|
|Area||6,448 square kilometres (2,490 sq mi) total, 0 km² land surface/islets|
|Length||About 130 kilometres (81 mi)|
|Width||About 70 kilometres (43 mi)|
|People's Republic of China|
|Prefecture-level city |
|Republic of China (Taiwan)|
The broken coral reef rim of Macclesfield Bank, with a width of up to 8 km (5 mi), has depths of 11.8 m (39 ft) at Pygmy Shoal on the northeast end of the bank and depths of 11.6 to 18 m (59 ft) elsewhere. Within the lagoon, Walker Shoal marks the least known depth of 9.2 metres (30 ft). In general, the central lagoon is very deep, with depths up to 100 metres (330 ft).
The elongated atoll consists of the following shoals, clockwise starting in the northeast, and at the end the six named shoals in the lagoon:
|Pigmy (Pygmy) Shoal||Biwei Ansha||比微暗沙||7|
|Engeria (Egeria) Bank||Yinji Tan||隱磯灘||10|
|Howard Shoal||Wuyong Ansha||武勇暗沙||10|
|Learmonth Shoal||Jimeng Ansha||濟猛暗沙||9|
|Plover Shoal||Haijiu Ansha||海鳩暗沙||10|
|Addington Patch||Anding Lianjiao||安定連礁||10|
|Smith Shoal||Meixi Ansha||美溪暗沙||9|
|Bassett Shoal||Bude Ansha||布德暗沙||9|
|Balfour Shoal||Bofu Ansha||波洑暗沙 or 伏洑暗沙||8|
|Parry Shoal||Paibo Ansha||排波暗沙||8|
|Cawston Shoal||Guodian Ansha||果淀暗沙||10|
|Penguin Bank||Paihong Tan||排洪灘||9|
|Tancred Shoal||Taojing Ansha||濤靜暗沙||10|
|Combe Shoal||Kongpai Ansha||控湃暗沙||7|
|Cathy (Cathay) Shoal||Huaxia Ansha||華夏暗沙||7|
|Siamese Shoal||Simen Ansha||西門暗沙||9|
|Bankok Shoal||Bengu Ansha||本固暗沙||7|
|Magpie Shoal||Meibin Ansha||美濱暗沙||8|
|Carpenter Shoal||Luban Ansha||魯班暗沙||8|
|Oliver Shoal||Zhongbei Ansha||中北暗沙||7|
|Hardy Patches1||Shitang Lianjiao||石塘連礁||8|
|Hand Shoal1||Zhizhang Ansha||指掌暗沙||9|
|Margesson Shoal1||Nanfei Ansha||南扉暗沙||8|
|Walker Shoal1||Manbu Ansha||漫步暗沙||5|
|Phillip's Shoal1||Lexi Ansha||樂西暗沙||9|
|Payne Shoal1||Pingnan Ansha||屏南暗沙||8|
1 inside lagoon
Some sources state that the Philippines claims this underwater feature. However, Jose Zaide, a Filipino diplomat of ambassadorial rank, has written that the Philippines does not claim the Macclesfield Bank. Moreover, Macclesfield Bank is not within UNCLOS 200 or Philippines EEZ.
As the bank is entirely underwater, some scholars have raised questions regarding the legality of territorial claims upon it with regards to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, the Philippines filed claim for another underwater feature, the Benham Plateau, in 2008 in compliance with the requirements of UNCLOS and UN officially approved the claim in April 2012.
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