The Blue Hole
Location: The Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef - Belize
by Wayne & Karen Brown
Today we are diving one in of the most mysterious and amazing places in the sea, The Blue Hole! The Blue Hole is a gigantic hole in the ocean. (The Blue Hole in the middle picture in the title at the top of the page.) It is so huge that the astronauts can easily see it from the space station! Divemaster Juan told us that it is almost 1,000 feet in diameter and over 400 feet deep! We are not diving to the bottom, but we are diving to over 150 feet underwater. This is more than twice as deep as any dive we have made so far on this expedition.
Deep diving can dangerous if it is not done safely. Both Divemaster Juan and Captain Ken made sure everything was done extra safely. Because it is so deep we will only be making one quick dive here. We will only be able to stay 5 minutes at 150 feet. We won't have time to try to find out where things are, so Divemaster Juan and Captain Ken will take us right to the best place to see things during our short stay underwater.
Captain Ken has Belize Aggressor III anchored at the edge of The Blue Hole. When we stepped into the water we almost touched the sandy rim because the water around The Blue Hole is very shallow. We swam about 30 feet from the boat and came to the very edge of The Blue Hole. The bottom sloped steeply to the edge then dropped off straight down and disappeared into the deep blue. We followed Divemaster Juan and Captian Ken straight down into the blue.
As we swam down the inside of The Blue Hole we saw that the side is a vertical rough limestone cliff. We could see that nothing is living on this underwater cliff, no corals, fish or any other sea creature! We looked away from the cliff, and could see nothing swimming in the water nearby. We were the only living things inside The Blue Hole!
100 feet down - The cliff starts to curve inward.
130 feet down - We are now under the cliff inside the mouth of a huge cave! We can't see the bottom! Around us are gigantic stalactites hanging from the cave ceiling! We swim between the huge hanging stalactites. Some of them are over 5 feet in diameter and 20 feet long!
150 feet down - We are below all but the longest of the stalactites. We still can't see the bottom! Divemaster Juan signals that we now only have 5 minutes to look around and take pictures before we have to go back up. Things are different down this deep. The light is dimmer here and all colors, except for blue, have disappeared. Everything looks bluish-gray. Even the sounds are different. The air bubbles that exhaust from our regulators have a kind of tinkly sound, like glass wind chimes.
We don't even have time to shoot all our pictures before Captain Ken gives us the signal that our time is up. We have to swim back to the surface. As we make our long swim back to the surface we think about what we have learned during our dive. The Blue Hole was once out of the water. We know this because stalactites can only form out of the water. This means that thousands of years ago The Blue Hole and the reefs around it were dry land. (What do you think made the level of the ocean change?)
Back onboard Belize Aggressor III Divemaster Juan tells us that The Blue Hole is actually an ancient cave. Part of the ceiling fell in to form this huge sinkhole. When the sea covered the cave it became The Blue Hole. Juan says the mouth of the huge cave we swam into continues far deeper and further back than anyone has ever explored. No one knows where the cave goes to. Could it connect to another cave on land? No one knows. Maybe one day one of you could find a way to explore this cave and solve the mystery of where it leads!
Check in tomorrow as we find out how the coral reefs are being protected here in Belize.
Wayne & Karen
The Blue Hole, Belize
Position: 17º 19' N / 87º 32' W
Air Temp: 87ºF
Weather: light breeze, sunny with scattered clouds and calm seas.
Water Temp: 81ºF
10 feet - We see the edge of The Blue Hole. A small reef with corals and fish live at the edge of The Blue Hole. We could find nothing living in The Blue Hole.
130 feet - Can you find Wayne in this picture? He is back between some gigantic stalactites.
130 feet - Another diver is videoing Wayne as he photographs a huge stalactite.
150 feet - Wayne swims below the stalactites to photograph them before returning to the surface.
150 feet - We follow Captain Ken as he slowly swims past a huge stalactite back to the surface.