Divers Unveil Secrets Lurking In ‘The Great Blue Hole’
The Great Blue Hole of Belize is one of the amazing geographical wonders on the planet. The hole itself is a deep, dark blue that borders on purple which contrasts amazingly with the rest of the Caribbean Sea that surrounds it. The reason for this discoloration is the sheer depth of the hole. H.P. Lovecraft made us innately fear the depths of the ocean but that didn’t stop a team of explorers from descending into the Great Blue Hole in order to see what they could find. What they found, well, it terrified them!
A True Diver’s Paradise
Just looking at the Blue Hole would make you realize how alluring it would be to professional divers. The deep dark color shows just how deep the hole gets. The ocean is already considered a sort of ‘final frontier’ on our planet, so who knows what could be lurking at the bottom of it?
All-Star Team Of Explorers
Undergoing an expedition into somewhere as deep and dangerous as the Blue Hole requires a team of professionals. The expedition that decided to make this exploration of the Blue Hole was led by a couple of real All-Stars in billionaire Sir Richard Branson and Fabien Cousteau. Fabien Cousteau is the grandson of the famous Jacques Cousteau. Fabien is famous worldwide for his deep-sea exploration and passion for oceanic preservation.
Largest Oceanic Sinkhole In The World
The Blue Hole is known as the largest oceanic sinkhole in the world and it is located in the middle of one of the most impressive reef systems in the ocean, the Belize Barrier Reef. The Belize Barrier Reef astounded Charles Darwin back in 1842 and he gushed profusely about its beauty while writing in his journal. While the Belize Barrier Reef remains a beautiful natural wonder to this day, it has suffered greatly from pollution due to mankind’s carelessness.
Professional Divers Only
The Blue Hole features a 420-foot drop straight to the bottom of the ocean. This massive drop makes for an ideal diving environment if you meet all of the criteria required in order to attempt it! Divers need to have 24 recorded dives on their record before they are legally allowed to take the dive at the Blue Hole.
A Personal Mission
For Fabien, the mission to explore the depths of the Blue Hole was a personal one. Back in 1971, Fabien’s grandfather Jacques had deemed the location one of the most important diving spots on the entire planet. Unfortunately for Jacques, the technology he possessed at the time would not allow him to explore the murky depths of the famous geographical oddity.
A Billionaire Onboard
Of course, Fabien couldn’t accomplish this mission on his own, he’d need funding! Richard Branson is a billionaire tycoon and conservationist who is passionate about exploring all facets of nature in order to try and support the world around us. Branson and Cousteau would be joined by their pilot, Erika Bergman. The goal of the mission was to explore the Blue Hole, identify amazing natural elements, and discover if there truly was a mystery residing in the deep, dark, and scary waters.
Climate Change Champion
Richard Branson has never been afraid of using his position and finances in order to spread the word regarding the importance of protecting our planet. In fact, Branson has used a mass amount of his wealth in order to fight for protecting the environment. Branson’s addition to the team meant only one thing: the mission was going to go forward.
National Media Joins In
Due to the mysterious nature of the Blue Hole and the profile of the names involved, media attention quickly began to amplify. This mission was going to be one of the deepest ventures that any expedition team had ever made into a sinkhole. Branson and his team were venturing into completely unknown waters! The media followed Branson’s lead as he dubbed their mission a trip into ‘planetary inner space’.
Most Important Expedition Since James Cameron
The last time that an oceanic expedition had gained this kind of attention, James Cameron was plunging the depths of the Mariana Trench. Still, Branson’s team was focused on the mission ahead. The celebrity trio of explorers descended into the depths of the Blue Hole for nearly a full 10 minutes. They could see the entire ocean around them thanks to their glass overhead view.
As the submersible made its descent toward the bottom of the sinkhole, amazing geographic features began to unveil themselves. Cave formations with dangling rocks such as this showed evidence that this section of the Blue Hole had once existed above water. How did this cave structure end up below nearly 400 feet of ocean water?
A Dire Warning
Richard Branson was as impressed as he was horrified of seeing those cave formations below the water. Branson would go on to tout those formations as a ‘stark reminder’ of the immense danger that climate change can pose. These caves were underwater due to an ice melt toward the end of the Ice Age.
Analyzing Mineral Layers
Years before Branson’s team would descend into the Blue Hole, another team investigated the location. This team, led by researchers from Louisiana State University and Rice University, were focused on collecting mineral samples from the walls of the sinkhole. They wanted to know if civilizations in Belize declined in correlation to the formation of the Blue Hole.
The Demise Of The Maya
The researchers wanted to find out of the Maya civilization in Belize had struggled in concert with the Blue Hole. In fact, research would use the mineral samples in order to conclude that the Maya were experiencing a catastrophic drought during their demise.
The Dead Wall
Back underwater, Cousteau’s team ended up running into what they deemed a ‘dead zone’. This dead zone was comprised of a twenty-foot wall of hydrogen sulfide. This chemical layer would kill any living creature that ran into it. The crew found dead creatures all over the area.
A Horrific Discovery
While followers of the expedition had hoped to find some remnants of an ancient oceanic beast or civilization, the truth ended up being far more horrifying. As Cousteau’s team passed the dead zone, they came upon something just staggering. Instead of beautiful nature, the floor of the Blue Hole was absolutely littered with garbage.
A Sea Bed Of Tragedy
Instead of beautiful natural formations or remnants of a lost civilization, the bottom of the Blue Hole was filled with human waste. Glass and plastic bottles littered the floor in such numbers that it was almost impossible to see through. Branson and his team were absolutely disgusted as they returned to the surface.
Activism At The Ready
While the expedition revealed an ugly side to human nature, Branson and his team were ready to respond to what they had found. The harsh reminder of humanity’s destruction couldn’t be ignored. Branson partnered with Ocean Unite in order to try and raise awareness of the ocean’s degrading condition. His goal was to make people more environmentally aware of their impact on the world.
Protect The Ocean
While becoming more aware of pollution is important, Branson wanted to take the notion one step further. Branson and Ocean Unite are aiming to preserve 30% of the world’s ocean in order to legally deem it a protected area. They want there to be legal repercussions for people who destroy these protected areas with pollution.
Progress By 2050
Branson and Ocean Unite point to 2050 as being a year that could possibly see the world’s oceans irrevocably damaged by human pollution and destruction. Branson’s dire warning has helped to fuel change in several important areas. Belize has already banned single-use plastic items from production and use in their country.
Making A Difference
People all over the world are working to make a positive impact on the ocean and the environment. Leonardo DiCaprio foudned the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in order to support and strengthen environmental work all over the planet. One branch of his foundation includes the Plastic Solutions Fund which aims at getting rid of plastic usage that is non-essential.