May 10, 2010

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

the-great-blue-hole-belize

On this pale blue dot lies a great blue hole. About 100 km (62 miles) off the coast of Belize lies the Lighthouse Reef. A small atoll glowing in vibrant hues of turquoise, teal, peacock blue, and aquamarine. Within this small sea of light colors, however, lies a giant circle of deep blue. Roughly 300 meters (1,000 feet) across and 125 meters (400 feet) deep, the feature is known as the Great Blue Hole.


THE GREAT BLUE HOLE

– The Great Blue Hole is a large and circular underwater sinkhole off the coast of Belize
– It was formed as a limestone cave system during the last Ice Age when sea levels were much lower. As the ocean began to rise again, the caves flooded, and the roof collapsed
– Believed to be the world’s largest feature of its kind, the Great Blue Hole is part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
– This site was made famous by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world. In 1971, he brought his ship, the Calypso, to the hole to chart its depths
– Stalactites were retrieved from submerged caves, confirming their previous formation above sea level.

lighthouse-reef-belize-great-blue-hole-in-ocean
Photograph by David Doubilet / National Geographic


DIVING DESTINATION

– This is a popular spot amongst recreational scuba divers, who are lured by the opportunity to dive in crystal-clear water and meet several species of fish, including giant groupers, nurse sharks and several types of reef sharks such as the Caribbean reef shark and the Blacktip shark
– Other species of sharks, like the bull shark and hammerheads, have been reported there, but are not regular sightings. Usually, dive trips to the Great Blue Hole are full-day trips, which include one dive in the Blue Hole and two further dives in nearby reefs
– Blue Hole diving is not recommended for beginners as it takes hundreds of feet into the hole to be able to enjoy the marvelous wonder of this underwater cave. The temperature inside the hole is 73F (22.7 C) all year long
– The deeper into the Blue hole, the clearer the water and the more breathtaking the scenery. As it takes diving deeper than sport diving depths, the Great Hole of Belize is only for specialists and cave divers, who have the required training and equipment

giant blue hole underwater The Great Blue Hole in Belize
Photograph by Head Librarian

diving the giant blue hole The Great Blue Hole in Belize

scuba-diving-the-great-blue-hole


BEST TIME TO DIVE THE GIANT BLUE HOLE

– The air temperature in Belize is almost always warm, with a water temperature low of just 24°C. Because of the warm weather available all year long, you can dive at any time at the Great Blue Hole without necessarily having to deal with a cold period
– There is a rainy season in Belize and although it does not necessarily affect anything that can go on with a scuba dive, it can cause problems with anything else you may want to accomplish while in the country
– The rainy season usually lasts from June to August with the months of February to May generally considered to be the driest

the-great-blue-sinkhole-belize
Photograph by JayFC

massive blue sinkhole in the ocean The Great Blue Hole in Belize
Photograph by U.S. Geological Survey

sky diving over the giant blue hole belize aerial The Great Blue Hole in Belize
Photograph by Andy and Keri Farrington


“In February 2005, eight daring people set out to be some of the first to skydive into Belize’s Blue Hole. Even though Belize is a very popular dive spot, there have been very few commercial skydiving trips in Belize—let alone the Blue Hole—before our trip.”

“In a plane provided by Washington-based Kapowsin Air Sports (www.skydivekapowsin.com) and piloted by our dad, we took off from the San Pedro airport. At about 45 miles (72 kilometers) out to sea and 13,000 feet (3,963 meters), the group prepared to jump. Forming a round like this one wasn’t hard, and it was a perfect photo opportunity. We did a total of 60 dives in the hole and on the island.”

“Water jumps are a little nerve-wracking but also exhilarating. You have to jump with extra gear, like flotation devices, to be ready to enter the water. Andy also needed a dry bag to put his camera in after the parachutes opened.”

– Andy, 24, and Keri Farrington, 28 (Kapowsin, Washington)

great-blue-hole-aerial
Photograph by Britsincancun.com

satelite photo of the giant blue hole The Great Blue Hole in Belize
Photograph by Jesse Allen / NASA


SOURCES
Wikipedia: The Great Blue Hole
Legendary Great Blue Hole of Belize
Scuba Diving in The Great Blue Hole



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