Depths of Belize’s Great Blue Hole, the World’s Largest Sinkhole, Explored by Submarine
A world-famous landmark and one of the most popular dive sites in Belize, the Great Blue Hole has largely remained unexplored. More than 200 feet too deep for standard scuba diving equipment to reach, the Great Blue Hole contains a vast underwater cave system that has stubbornly resisted being accurately mapped until now. On December 2, 2018, the Discovery Channel broadcast an unprecedented two-hour live show direct from the bottom of the Great Blue Hole. Using two highly advanced underwater vehicles, the Discovery Channel pulled out all the stops to fund a scientific team to fully chart and video record the entirety of the Great Blue Hole.
The full depth of the Blue Hole is approximately 410 feet deep. The underwater ecosystem continues to completely change as the crew moves towards the bottom.
Posted by Discovery on Sunday, December 2, 2018
The Great Blue Hole has existed for over 100,000 years. Originally a cave on dry land, the Great Blue Hole became submerged at the end of the last great Ice Age. Well-known to local fishermen, it only became known to the outside world when the oceanographer and marine documentarian Jacques Cousteau visited the site in 1971 aboard his famous ship The Calypso. Using specially built cameras that he designed himself, Cousteau broadcast the very first video images from the bottom of the Great Blue Hole as part of his hit television show, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.
But in the 47 years since then, no one else has attempted to map and video record the Great Blue Hole. Measuring 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and some 400 feet (125 meters) deep, the Great Blue Hole’s size and dark waters have made it impossible for divers to accurately chart its unique features. But thanks to advanced vehicles like Aquatica’s STINGRAY 500 and the Roatan Institute for Deep Sea Exploration (RIDE)’s IDABEL that can stay underwater for 12 hours at a time and reach depths of 3000 feet, the 2018 expedition is working to create a 3D map of the entirety of the Great Blue Hole using special cameras and high-tech sonar.
And for one member of the scientific team, exploring the Great Blue Hole has personal significance. Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of Jacques Cousteau and an accomplished diver and oceanographer himself, helped narrate the Discovery Channel’s historic broadcast from the bottom of the Great Blue Hole.
Interested in doing some diving in Belize yourself? Barefoot Rentals and Services organizes dive trips to all of the top spots on the reef, including the famous Great Blue Hole. Barefoot Rentals is much more than just a rental company. They also offer dive tours, adventure tours on the mainland, and culinary tours.