From above, the Blue Hole of Belize is breathtaking. It’s a huge, almost perfectly round formation in the middle of the reef. Its deep azure color contrasts with the surrounding turquoise Caribbean waters.
But its deep color hides a deep secret. The hole plunges down almost 420 feet below the surface and has remained unexplored and untouched at those depths… until now.
A team of explorers have set out to discover what lurks at the bottom of the tantalizing ocean formation.But what they would discover when they finally reach the ocean floor would leave them surprised, horrified… and deeply troubled.
The Cousteau Family
Diving into the depts of the ocean is not a task for any diver. It’s very risky, meaning that only someone with certain experience is suitable for the task, and no one has more experience than the Cousteau family.
The Cousteau family has a long history with the sea.
Fabien Cousteau’s grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, was a diving pioneer and helped design the SCUBA gear still used by divers today. Fabien, on his part, has dedicated his life to exploring the deep ocean. He’s searched for and discovered ancient shipwrecks, documented sharks and plunged into the dark, murky waters of the deep sea on countless occasions.But his dive in Belize’s Blue Hole left him utterly speechless…
The Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef, just east of Belize’s coast, is a big part of the ecosystem known at the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Starting in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula in the north and ending south of Honduras, it is the second largest reef network in the world, following Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef.The Blue Hole is situated in the reef’s center, a dark spot, beckoning explorers to it with its mystifying, unexplored depths.
Under the Water
The Blue Hole is located in the easternmost part of the Belize Barrier Reef, in a smaller formation known as Lighthouse Reef.
An irresistible draw for SCUBA divers, the Blue Hole is truly a marvel of the natural world.
With a radius large enough to comfortably fit two Boeing 747 planes side by side in its gaping maw, the Hole is enormous – but still makes for some pretty tricky diving, requiring divers to have at least 24 previous dives under their belt before attempting to explore its depths.But while the parts closer to the surface are quite a popular diving destination, its depths have remained unexplored, and may yet hold unimaginable secrets.
Fabien Cousteau had more than just a professional interest in this mission.
His grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, had visited the Blue Hole back in 1971 – and declared it one of the top five diving spots on the planet.But back in the ’70s, the diving equipment available to the world-famous ocean explorer wasn’t nearly as sophisticated at the equipment available to his grandson – and while the older Cousteau only got a peek at the hidden depths of the Hole, it seemed his grandson would be in a position to expand on his work.
Fabien Cousteau wasn’t the only big name in ocean exploration to join the Blue Hole expedition.
Joining him was none other than the legendary billionaire, conservationist and adventurer, Sir Richard Branson.
Branson, through his ownership of the Virgin Group, is also an owner of the company Virgin Oceanic, which owns a fleet of submersible vehicles. Passionate about ocean exploration and conservation, Branson was keen on joining Cousteau in the Caribbean.
Descending to the bottom of the Hole, along with the two explorers, was oceanographer Erika Bergman, who would also pilot their submarine, Aquatica.