Posted: Monday, April 17, 2023. 8:57 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: For all its treasured and iconic status in Belize, the Blue Hole in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll still keeps many secrets.
Recently a travel website, The Travel, put together a list of 10 things most don’t know about the Blue Hole.
First, its waters may look blue but actually aren’t. From the sky, the colour matches its surroundings, but divers who have been inside can testify that at its depths it is black as ink.
Secondly, its name describes what it is physically, but it does not have any connection with the Maya legends of being a place of communication between gods and human beings at an altar situated at the bottom.
In fact, the hole was originally a dry cave used by priests and other members of high society as a place to conduct sacrifices. The sacrifices were performed by dropping the victims into the cave’s bottom and letting them die of thirst or be eaten alive by wild animals. The Blue Hole is part of a network of underwater caves and canyons covering several miles and some are untouched and waiting to be explored. There are actually as many as ten openings below the surface though only one can be seen from above. The depth of the Blue Hole has been measured at more than 300 feet to the sea floor, however, its width is about one square mile across.
While the Blue Hole appears to be a perfect circle from above, it is actually more of a “U” shape or a horseshoe with an open end at the surface, which slopes downwards before it meets the seafloor with a flat bottom. The sides of the sinkhole slope at an angle of more than 80 degrees, and they form a massive conic structure covered by sediments, limestone, and gypsum ledges. The slopes also create a unique and challenging dive experience.
Because the caves extend to such long distances, they have become home for many creatures including tropical fish and other marine life since the water inside them is so clear and pure. Fish that would never normally be found in the same area are forced to share their habitat by the very fact they live inside caves connected to the same water system.
Diving in causes a sudden temperature change such that at its depths the temperature is closer to freezing cold than toasty warm. The Blue Hole is not a beginner diver’s experience. The human body can only go so far into the water before it begins to feel extremely uncomfortable or even painful. At the depths of the blue hole, which is over 300 feet deep in some areas, there is no light, and it is impossible to see anything below you. This makes it very easy to get lost and die a painful death. Realistically, you cannot dive this far into a hole without suffering great trauma.
Nonetheless, the Blue Hole continues to call to divers from around the world and seeing it is an unforgettable experience.
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