This world-class destination is one of the world’s most beautiful and largest sinkholes in the world and a great hotspot for scuba divers all over the world. It is located 60 miles (100 km) from the coast Belize. Great Blue Hole has a circular shape and a rich blue color. The hole is over 1000 ft (300 meters) across, 3140 ft (957 meters) circumference and 410 ft (125 meters) deep.
This great blue sea hole lies in the center of an atoll known as the Lighthouse Reef – a small atoll that is 62 miles (100 km) away from Belize City. The water levels here are very shallow as part of the ring surrounding this sinkhole are visible at low tides. Other famous blue holes around the globe are found on the coast of Bahamas, Egypt, Australia, and Gaum.
This great sea hole was named ” Great Blue Hole” by a British author and diver Ned Middleton in his famous book “The Ten Years Underwater”. It became famous because of Cousteau Jacques, a French explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, photographer, innovator, researcher. Besides, the author who listed this hole among the top five scuba diving sites in the world.
From an aerial view, it looks like a large dark blue circle in the middle of the sea. The dark blue color is a result of color absorption of water and reflection. The hole is more visible when you’re on a plane, than when riding a boat. The sheer walls of the hole limit the amount of sunlight entering the hole, hence the dim environment.
It was originally formed as a cave in the last glacial period when the sea level was much lower than today. The cave was later flooded with water, when the sea began to rise. A carbon dissolution process occurred, when the rainwater carrying chemicals, that reacts with limestone, was percolating.
The rising of sea water levels on top of the roof of the cavern made it collapse, since it could no longer support the weight of the water above. Though, the inner part of the cave remained intact. Its formation is similar to that of Cenotes Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
Studies have shown that this Great Blue Hole had been formed in several episodes of quaternary glaciation that took place 153,000; 66,000; 60,000; and lastly 15,000 years ago. Earthquakes accelerated the weakening of its roof in the last two episodes. The earthquake collapsed the roof of the cave leading to the formation of a circular opening.
The shallow water that surrounds this dark blue hole is rich in marine wildlife. Despite the fact that the poor water circulation limits the number of nutrients, the hole is the home to a number of marine wildlife species. For example, bull shark, caribbean reef shark, angelfish, butterfly fish, and other fish species. At some depths the water becomes anoxic – seawater depleted of dissolved oxygen.
Why visit this unique Great Blue Hole?
After reading a couple of articles, books and other sources of information about this Great Blue Hole, you must be asking yourself why you need to visit it. It is one of the main reasons why you should visit Belize city. This is a great hotspot for snorkeling and diving. The second richest man Bill Gates and his family visited this great sea hole on April 12, 2012.
You can take a scenic flight over this amazing natural wonder to have a great view of the dark blue circle in the sea. A scenic flight to this Great Blue Hole costs about $220. You can also take a two to three hours boat ride this place from Placencia, Southern Belize to have a physical experience with its waters and the beautiful underwater features. A flight to this Great Blue Hole accompanied by a boat ride to this place will give you the best experience.
The water becomes clearer as you go deeper, making it possible to see its beauty.
No one has ever managed to get to the bottom of this sinkhole that is 125 meters underwater, the main limiting factor is breathing the compressed air that is dangerous. That is due to its higher concentration of nitrogen that accumulates in the blood causing drowning and seizures. Air compression is due to the pressure exerted by the water above you. When you’re 10 meters deep, the pressure is double that when you’re on the surface. Diving beyond 50 meters deep you will be risking your life.
However, it’s unarguably fascinating. This wonder of nature is truly worth of visiting and seeing it. In order to have a little idea of how this hole looks like underwater, please watch this video.
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