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Most Beautiful Places Around the World : Blue Hole (Belize)

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Have you ever seen a cave? There are caves in different places in India and across the world. They all make for a mysterious visit, taking you to your childhood when an explorer or brave character would enter a cave in search of treasures or to unfold some hidden answers. Surely you watched Lara Croft, Tintin and the likes after all! There’s something about a dark seemingly hidden structure that makes you wonder about what it might hold inside; some riches, maybe elaborate stories or a natural phenomenon? While exploring the limited caves that I have seen, my mind finds itself going into a range of possibilities and tales. But I was recently writing about Belize when I came across The Blue Hole. It is a limestone cave or a sinkhole in layman terms, submerged inside water with a depth of 125 metres, i.e., 407 feet! Hold up. A cave INSIDE water? I have seen limestone caves and formations afloat waters or standing tall above water but this is the first time that I heard about one being inside water itself. And thus, one after the other pages were opened, searches were made, to understand what wonder of nature this might be.

I learnt that the cave has been there for thousands of years and has some mind-boggling marine life with black tip sharks, nurse sharks, reef sharks, etc. It is the largest structure of this kind in the whole wide world!

Once ranked number 1 by the Discovery Channel under “The 10 Most Amazing Places to see on Earth”, the Blue Hole is astounding to say the least. It was originally British diver and writer Ned Middleton who spent 6 months in Belize, got fascinated by this structure and named it “The Great Blue Hole”. His book, Ten Years Underwater, has him talking about its beauty and stating that if Australia has the Great Barrier Reef, Belize has the Great Blue Hole.

Blue Hole Belize
Source: https://www.cahalpech.com/ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-blue-hole-of-belize/

Stalactites, columns and drip sheets are found in endless numbers inside this cave like structure. These formations date back to 1,53,000 years ago. But while divers and snorkelers had been merrily exploring its surface waters, the depth remained to be seen. As is true of any unexplored mysteries, people speculated if aliens made way to the hole? Or did mermaids actually exist down below? Or was it some other sea creature? Tracks found on sands were the reasons for such wild speculations.

In was only in 2018 when a team from Aquatica Submarines was sent a team to see what really lay at the bottom of this enigmatic hole. That’s when we got answers. It was learnt that beyond 90 metres there were no signs of life. At the pit hydrogen sulphide spans the width of the cave, suffocating the few conch shells and crabs that mistakenly ended up there. Heartbreakingly, tracks may have belonged to living creatures who unknowingly made their way there and failed to escape. The tracks, a sign of their attempt to do so. The team members claimed that this particular area was rather eerie because it turned pitch dark, as if a switch had been turned off.

However, the presence of small stalactites led the scientists to reason that this cave had actually formed 14,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age! You see it wasn’t just a woolly mammoth and his gang on their adventures at that time! ? With the Ice Age, this cave which until then had been on the ground level, collapsed and fell into the water, thus, resulting in the form that we see today. Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas and Dragon Hole, China, are believed to have similar pasts.

However, this site won’t always be around for us to explore. As the water continues falling in, it brings in a little more sand. One of the researchers commented that the whole is like an underwater hourglass. So, in decades to come it will get filled up but for now people can explore it and all that it hides within its cracks and crevices.

Dives to the Blue Hole are generally combined with the Lighthouse Reef and Glover’s Reef nearby. Belize is believed to be a part of the world’s second largest barrier reef, after Australia. Charles Darwin himself exclaimed in 1836 that these parts of Belize made for “the richest and most remarkable coral reefs in the entire western Caribbean.

But this is not the only Blue Hole of Belize. There is an inland Blue Hole off the Hummingway Highway. It was formed by the collapse of a river channel and its turquoise waters, surrounded by rain forests and drooping mosses, make for a perfect dip.

Meanwhile, our original Blue Hole was actually made famous by Jacques Cousteau who explored and investigated in 1971. He declared that it is one of the top 10 diving sites in the world. Advanced divers who have visited the Blue Hole have gone on to second his statement. Interestingly, it is said that the deeper you get in the water the clearer it becomes. Yet the stone formations get more and more complex.

This dive is only permitted to those who have successfully completed 24 dives at least because of its sheer depth. But don’t let this disappoint you because snorkelling is permitted on the surface level of the waters. Before you say, aw shucks, you should know that the sighting of marine life even with snorkelling is beyond brilliant! Look at the picture below.

Top 10 diving sites
Source: https://www.scubadiving.com/scuba-diving-great-blue-hole-and-beyond-in-belize

One can see the spotted drum, midnight parrot fish, numerous fishes and the most gorgeous colourful corals.

Another adventure that commenced around the Blue Hole some years back is of sky-diving! Yes, imagine jumping into the sky and seeing yourself headed into the world’s largest sunken hole, that too inside a waterbed! It sure looks like the experience of a lifetime.

Sky Diving in Blue Hole
Source: https://www.wimdegier.nl/skydive-the-blue-hole-belize/

With Belize believed to have been the capital of the ancient Mayan empire, I wonder is people from that era ever discovered the Blue Hole? Do you think they would have seen it? Swam in it? Wondered what lay beneath them? Would they have at all anticipated the depth of this hole and how it came to be? Who knows, here we are busy thinking that the scientists of our time have shed so much light on this incredible structure but some decades later the researchers would uncover another myriad of mysteries, smiling as they read this because maybe we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. I mean, the hole!

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