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One of the most anticipated underwater expeditions took place in our very own backyard last December. Aquatica Submarines, along with Sir Richard Branson and Fabien Cousteau (yes, from that Cousteau) plunged deep into the famed Blue Hole – all 407 feet of it.
The contents at the bottom of the Blue Hole have eluded ocean conservation aficionados for many years, but the expedition made it possible to venture into Belize’s past, too. Could it be linked to the Mayas? Perhaps some mythical monsters? These were answered when the historic voyage was broadcast live on Discovery Channel on December 2, spotlighting our Jewel for a brief moment in time for countless of viewers to see. The broadcast team, comprising Erika Bergman from Aquatica Submarines, Sir Richard Branson from Virgin Group, and Fabien Cousteau conducted a total of 22 dives between November 27th and December 13th, 2018. The expedition, carried out via two submarines, produced extensive video footage and imagery, complete with a 360 sonar map of the Blue Hole. Aquatica Submarines called this a “historic accomplishment,” and promises to share the data with the Government of Belize and the larger scientific community.
“The Expedition’s successes really mean that we were able to show the magic of the Blue Hole to the world,” Harvey Flemming, president of Aquatica Submarines, said. “[They] reinforce the messages of all the Expedition members that we must continue to work diligently to conserve our world’s oceans for future generations.”
This conservation effort complements the efforts the people of Belize have accomplished as well, from removing the Belize Barrier Reef off the UNESCO endangered list to banning single-use plastic in 2019. Sir Richard Branson himself met with the Prime Minister of Belize, discussing protecting 10 per cent of Belize waters, which is a step towards the goal of 30 per cent by 2030.
As they made their watery descent, Branson said they spotted many breathtakingly beautiful things, among them giant stalactites on rock walls. The trip was composed of a number of scientists and geologists, all striving to leave a better world for future generations.
“I also wanted to see the reefs up close and personal myself,” Branson wrote on his blog. “So I went for an exhilarating scuba dive and saw an incredible array of fish and ocean life thriving. Long may it continue.”
The expedition shed some light into the Blue Hole that has been on many divers’ bucket lists; here’s to keep exploring – and protecting – our lovely Jewel.
For more information on eco-traveling or diving in Belize, feel free to call us toll-free at 1800-624-0686 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Photos courtesy of Aquatica Submarines