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#436329 - 04/23/12 01:04 PM Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video
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Belize’s Lighthouse Reef Atoll

Tracing its way along Belize’s White Sand coast, Lighthouse Reef forms an integral section of the longest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere.

Its crown aquatic jewel, Blue Hole National Monument, attracts legions of wetsuit-clad admirers the World over, but the reef is also endowed with plenty other coral formations, aquatic walls, and dive sites.

Just 50 miles southeast of Belize City, the physical mass of Lighthouse Reef is meager: only 30 miles long and eight miles wide, and some of the country’s most impressive dives are to be had within this atoll.


Most divers first stop at Blue Hole National Monument. The monument was formed from 15,000-anni caverns that collapsed, creating a 1,000-foot-wide sinkhole.

Centered in 75 square feet of shallow water, the Hole descends over 400 ft, with a straight, 125-ft vertical descent.

The Blue Hole looks most impressive from the air, brilliant shades of blue rapidly shift from the lightest of Caribbean Aqua to the deepest Navy as you approach the monument’s apex, but its true glories are not just skin deep: shallow reefs around the perimeter of this aquatic abyss burst with vibrant coral, home to angelfish, butterfly fish, sea urchins, and giant green anemones, while a vast network of underwater valleys and tunnels lie hidden in its Deep-Blue heart.


But, while Blue Hole may receive the Lionfish’s share of attention, Jacques Cousteau was an admirer, the Lighthouse Reef’s best full-on diving can be found at Half Moon and Long Cayes; Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is easily the best of the 40 or so dive sites on the atoll.

Off the eastern coast of Lighthouse, this shallow reef shelf rests in 15 ft of water, giving novice divers and snorkelers the chance to intermingle with the underwater locals, including an impressive population of garden eels.

Diving deeper into the Caribbean, a 20-ft reef wall supports a bustling contingent of nurse sharks, gigantic stingrays, featherduster worms, sea anemones, shrimps, crabs, starfish, angelfish, damselfish, butterfly fish, and parrot fish.

The reef then plunges another 1,000 feet down Half Moon Wall, where a colorful riot of sponges and coral growth intermingle with sea turtles, sea fans, barracuda, lobsters, morays, jacks, wahoos, groupers, and millions of smaller fish.

Long Caye, positioned on the southern outshoot of Lighthouse Reef Atoll and directly west of Half Moon Caye, is a remote outpost of big palms and glassy water that protects the same impressive aquatic life found at Half Moom, but without the crowds.

A small airstrip on Big Northern Caye enables day trippers to drop in from Belize City, and a flotilla of boats is on hand to take visitors out to easily accessible dive and snorkeling sites.

It is a good idea to hook up with a regional outfitter and plan on staying on Lighthouse Atoll for at least 4 days, you will only scratch the surface, but that will more than likely be enough to get you to come back.

Those drawn to Blue Hole should temper all pulls of gravity with the fact that some experience is necessary to dive the monument’s depth, local guides with solid diving reputations are highly recommended.


VIDEO: Mexico to Belize 2012 From Bull Sharks to the Great Blue Hole!

Take an incredible movie adventure above and below the surface from Cozumel to Belize! See sharks, rays, sea turtles, corals that amaze you and a kaleidescope of beautiful tropical fish.. and much more... even visit Chichen Itza and the Great Blue Hole!

MOVIE SCENE MENU HERE!

  • DRIFT DIVING ON COZUMEL 0:00
  • PLAYA DEL CARMEN 15:30
  • CHICHEN ITZA 18:41
  • BULL SHARK DIVING 23:44
  • CAYE CAULKER BELIZE 29:21
  • INCREDIBLE COMPLETE BELIZE SUNSET 33:39
  • GREAT BLUE HOLE DIVING 35:46
  • DIVING THE BELIZE ATOLLS 43:36
  • SPOTTED EAGLE RAYS 46:02
  • THE AQUARIUM AT LIGHTHOUSE REEF 46:40
  • THE SPLIT ON CAYE CAULKER 48:01
  • BARRIER REEF SPORTS BAR / GIANTS WIN! 49:44
  • LIGHTHOUSE / TURNEFFE REEF ATOLLS 51:55
  • TWO HUGE ANGEL FISH DANCING TOGETHER 54:55
  • BIG CRAB 56:00
  • QUEEN ANGEL FISH 59:00
  • GIANT GREEN MORAY EEL 59:45
  • DOLPHINS 1:00:11
  • HALF MOON CAYE 1:01:14
  • RETURN TO THE AQUARIUM 1:03:51
  • CRUISING WITH A HAWKSBILL TURTLE 1:11:50
  • STING RAY 1:16:24
  • TARPON AND SPOTTED EAGLE RAY 1:16:58
  • DIVING LONG CAYE WALL 1:20:18
  • KAYAK TRIP AROUND CAYE CAULKER 1:20:52 (Great birds and huge white eagle's nest with babies!)
  • DIVING HOL CHAN MARINE RESERVE 1:27:36
    (awesome nurse sharks, turtles, spotted eagle rays and fish!)
  • CREDITS 1:39:06

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#453676 - 12/17/12 02:15 PM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
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Belize Diving, Half Moon Wall, Lighthouse Reef

Featuring Guest Divers Tom and Cindy. Caribbean Gray Reef Sharks appear after "Barry the Barracuda" eats Lionfish from our spear.


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#456586 - 01/28/13 02:23 PM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
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VIDEO: SHARK DIVING BELIZE, at Half Moon Wall

Big sharks today and another great day of diving on our routine Blue Hole Trip. This is dive two of three tank dive.

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#459210 - 03/01/13 03:07 PM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
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VIDEO: Huron Scuba Dive Team - Belize 2012/2013

Shot with GoPro3 Black edition on location at Halfmoon Caye in Belize. Jan.1 2013. TURTLE!!!!!!!!

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#460390 - 03/17/13 02:23 PM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
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The Sharks at Half Moon Wall, Lighthouse Reef, Belize

First PADI Advanced Open Water Dive for a couple of divers. Our cast today featuring "Barry" The Barracuda, Lionfish and The Sharks at Half Moon Wall.

This is dive two of a Great Blue Hole Day Trip from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize Central America. Produced by Michael Davis



Half Moon Caye Wall, The Best Dive Site In Belize

The typical Blue Hole trip in Belize is most often followed up by a lesser advertised, yet more spectacular dive site known as Half Moon Caye Wall. Most dive boats take about 25 minutes to get to this site, the short trip is part of your surface interval after the Blue Hole dive. What makes this site the best in Belize? It is the sheer consistency of diverse wildlife encounters, beautiful corals and gentle conditions; I haven’t seen all that there is to see in the Caribbean but I’ve been told by many who have that this is pretty much as good as it gets. At the surface it’s the sort of scene you’d only expect to find in a photoshopped magazine ad. The pristine crescent shaped tropical island of Half Moon Caye is the backdrop in the distance. It tops off an area where turquoise waters and unbelievable visibility are the norm.

Below the surface, there is a gentle sandy slope that starts on the beach of the island in the distance and gradually leads up to a drop off at around 45 Ft/ 13 M. The drop off is bordered by a crust of reef that forms an awe inspiring wall scattered with hidden tunnels; yellow and neon blue sponges, black and lilac sea fans and giant barrel sponges with abstract shaped openings. It goes down to depths of 100 Ft/30 M or more. You start off by dropping over about 30Ft/10M of water and descending on to bright white sand with patches of sea grass and, often, garden eels wave about in the current looking remarkably similar to the patches they imitate.

You then follow your dive leader toward the wall; were mounds of coral are covered by swarms of juvenile fish in shades of purple, yellow, blue, red and green. Schools of Creole wrasse zoom over bumps and dodge fans while staying in wave like formation, you may notice that they carry themselves about much like a group of commuters in a bustling city. Groupers hover over brain corals or in giant sponges; a sort of expression on their would-be faces that lies between gloomy and grumpy. If your observant and move slowly, you will occasionally see one or 2 with their gills or mouths being cleaned by tiny fish and shrimp. (Cleaning Stations) At this point, the dive leader should have already asked you to level off at a predetermined maximum depth, usually 60Ft/18M. Though, take note, the high visibility makes it difficult to determine depth. Sunlight, on most days, easily reaches down to 100 Ft/30 M so divers must be vigilant and frequently check their depth.


Depending on where your dive boat dropped your team, it may take 10 or 20 minutes to find a safe swim-through. On a good day, schools of tiny silver fish shelter in the naturally occurring coral tunnels, as you swim through the tunnel, it becomes much like swimming through a glittering bead curtain. They move seamlessly out of your way as you swim past, you never touch any of the hundreds of fish. At the other end of the tunnel dive leaders direct you back toward the wall. The face of the wall is reminiscent of a mountain face. If you’re lucky, you will see eagle rays gliding over subtle currents, hovering over coral peaks like their air counterparts; graceful, spots gleaming, almost golden from certain angles. Reef Sharks may also wander in and out of crevices, most avoid coming close and stick to patrolling the outer edges of the wall. Now and then, Hawk’s bill turtles drop in to munch on sponges, so it’s good to keep an eye out for them, they may also be seen going back up for air after time at depth.

Nearing the end of your dive you might have a dive time of about 45 to 50 minutes, it is unwise to spend too much time at your maximum depth and best to dive conservatively, especially if your previous dive was the Blue Hole and you’re not using nitrox. This includes respecting no decompression limits, even if they restrict dive time. Whether or not you come up due to low air, NDL, or dive time, it is best to do a safety stop, and because of the excellent visibility, it is common to be kept entertained by rays or sharks passing below. On rare occasions, dolphins might also be seen.

Half Moon Caye Wall, as far as Belizean dive sites go, is in its own class, it is potentially unforgettable, even if you’re difficult to satisfy. I honestly feel that, no matter who you are, or where you’ve dove, you will enjoy this dive. It is nothing short of amazing.

Photos courtesy of my friend F. Gordon Kirkwood

BelizeAdventure.ca


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#462683 - 04/19/13 12:55 PM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
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Inspired Travel: The Great Blue Hole

Great Blue HoleIf you’re an avid scuba diver or adventure junkie, you’ve probably heard of, or maybe even experienced the Great Blue Hole in the Belize Barrier Reef (an UNESCO World Heritage Site). Around 10,000 years ago, the hole’s roof collapsed to reveal the previously concealed cave below. Measuring at around 1,000 feet in diameter (and around 412 feet deep), the cave sits in the Lighthouse Reef and it is close to a perfect circle.

Great Blue HoleAt low tide, some of the reef (the white part in photos) actually protrudes from the water. The warm water and incredible visibility around the hole make the area great for beginner divers. If you’re looking to dive the cave, go with a professional company to be safe (there are plenty of options).

Great Blue HoleDivers can expect the best views of underwater life at around 60 to 80 feet below the surface. Incredible stalactites that can measure as long as 130 feet, some of the largest parrot fish in the world, stingrays, and butterfly fish are just a few of the things you’ll see while down there. Fun fact: Surprisingly, the hole is visible from space.

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#463750 - 05/06/13 11:33 AM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
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Mergulhando no Blue Hole e Half Moon Caye

Caribbean Gray Reef Sharks nadam ao nosso lado durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Caribbean Gray Reef Sharks nadam ao nosso lado durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


O Blue Hole está localizado no Lighthouse Reef, um arrecife de corais dentro da área protegida pela Grande Barreira de Corais de Belize, a segunda maior do mundo, apenas atrás da Austrália. Ainda que vizinho, o Blue Hole não pertence à grande barreira de corais e está localizado a 70km da costa belizenha.

Navegando sobre o Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Navegando sobre o Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


A viagem de barco dura duas horas, acompanhada de um bonine para não enjoar, foi super tranquila. Tínhamos um grupo bem mesclado de italianos, israelenses, lituanos, alemães, canadenses e americanos, além dos dois brazucas aqui.

A caminho do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

A caminho do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


O mergulho no Blue Hole foi lindíssimo, o que impressiona lá é a sua geografia, é imaginar que este gigante já esteve mais de 50m sobre o nível do mar e formou todas aquelas estalactites gigantescas! Não foi à toa que Jacques Cousteau o declarou um dos 10 melhores lugares para mergulhar no mundo!

Muitos mergulhadores no Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Muitos mergulhadores no Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


Mesmo com uma visibilidade baixa, em torno de 5m, conseguimos ter uma ideia da grandiosidade do buraco, que possui 300m de diâmetro e 124m de profundidade. Mergulhamos apenas em um pequeno trecho da parede leste onde estão as grandiosas estalactites.

Mergulhando nos estalactites do Blue Hole, a 40 metros de profundidade. na grande barreira de corais de Belize


Alguns sortudos conseguiram ver alguns tubarões que estavam nadando ao nosso lado, enquanto nós seguíamos impressionados entre as imensas formações a mais de 40 m de profundidade! Pela falta de luz lá dentro do Blue Hole não existe muita vida, o que impressiona é mesmo o cenário e a história geológica do lugar.

Mergulhando nos estalactites do Blue Hole, a 40 metros de profundidade. na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Mergulhando nos estalactites do Blue Hole, a 40 metros de profundidade. na grande barreira de corais de Belize


Já adianto que quem não é mergulhador pode ficar decepcionado, já que lá, sobre o Blue Hole, não é possível ver nada. Aquela imagem linda que todos conhecemos é só sobrevoando mesmo.

Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


Nossa próxima parada foi Half Moon Wall, um dos mergulhos mais impressionantes que já fizemos! A parede é maravilhosa, coberta de corais coloridos, muitos peixinhos, cavernas e pequenos cânions para explorar, mas ainda assim não olhamos nada disso.

Caribbean Gray Reef Sharks nadam ao nosso lado durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Caribbean Gray Reef Sharks nadam ao nosso lado durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


Por quê? Não conseguíamos tirar os olhos dos lindos tubarões que estavam nos acompanhando no mergulho! Isso mesmo, geralmente tubarões vêm, nos olham de canto e continuam sua rota, mas estes eram diferentes. Os Gray Caribbean Reef Sharks tinham em torno de 2m de comprimento, vivem aqui e estavam curiosos com estes visitantes mergulhando em sua parede de corais.

Encontro com tubarões em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Encontro com tubarões em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


Eles iam e vinham, passando a poucos metros de nós, muito curiosos! Difícil saber se quem estava sendo assistido ali, minha opinião? Eles estavam mergulhando para nos assistir, somos um bicho bem curioso mesmo embaixo d´água, não?

Início de mergulho no Blue Hole na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Início de mergulho no Blue Hole na grande barreira de corais de Belize


No final do mergulho ainda vimos uma tartaruga e uma raia, lindas! Um dos melhores mergulhos da viagem!

Nadando lado à lado com os belíssimos Caribbean Gray Reef Sharks, durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Nadando lado à lado com os belíssimos Caribbean Gray Reef Sharks, durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


Mergulhando nas paredes de corais de Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Mergulhando nas paredes de corais de Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


De volta ao barco o almoço foi servido, frango ao curry, salada e arroz bem gostosos e logo tivemos um tempo livre para passear pela ilha e visitar a colônia de pássaros que vive na reserva.

Nosso almoço em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Nosso almoço em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


Caminhando nas praias de Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Caminhando nas praias de Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


O Half Moon Natural Monument é casa para mais de 4 mil Red-Footed Boobies, que vem para ilha se reproduzir e outra centena de Fragatas com seus papos vermelhos inflados, dando um show de cores e vida! Maravilhoso!

Pássaro infla seu papo vermelho em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Pássaro infla seu papo vermelho em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


Colônia de pássaros em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Colônia de pássaros em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


Colônia de pássaros em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Colônia de pássaros em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


Iguana em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Iguana em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


Logo foi a vez do nosso terceiro e último mergulho, no Long Caye Aquarium, outra parede de corais maravilhosa, com mais de 30m de visibilidade e 50 de profundidade. Como era nosso terceiro mergulho ficamos nos 20m e agora sem os tubarões para nos distrair pudemos nos divertir explorando cada caverninha coral e ainda tivemos um encontro lindo com duas arraias xitas (spotted eagle rays). Sensacional!

Barracuda curiosa se aproxima de nós durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Barracuda curiosa se aproxima de nós durante mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


No final do mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize, ainda encontramos essa tartaruga acompanhada de dois peixes pegando carona em seu casco

No final do mergulho em Half Moon Wall, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize, ainda encontramos essa tartaruga acompanhada de dois peixes pegando carona em seu casco


Uma bela arraia chita durante mergulho em Long Caye Aquarium, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize

Uma bela arraia chita durante mergulho em Long Caye Aquarium, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais de Belize


Confesso a vocês que se nós tivéssemos pagado o valor acima citado apenas para o Blue Hole eu teria ficado um pouco decepcionada, mas a combinação dos três mergulhos, a visita à colônia de pássaros e o serviço da tripulação foram excepcionais e fizeram o preço super justo!

Momento de descanso em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Momento de descanso em Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize



Dicas Práticas

Tubarão devora mergulhador na decoração de restaurante em San Pedro, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Tubarão devora mergulhador na decoração de restaurante em San Pedro, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize


Uma das nossas únicas preocupações durante os 3 dias que ficamos em Caye Caulker era rodar todas as operadoras de mergulho para garantir que esta teria o grupo com no mínimo 8 pessoas para poder sair. Foram 2 dias até que eles conseguissem reunir o grupo. A operadora que nos garantiu a viagem foi a Frenchie´s, uma das maiores operações da ilha, muito sérios e organizados e por isso também um pouco mais caros. Este passeio não é barato, são 450 dólares belizenhos (US$ 225,00), incluindo tudo. O mesmo tour saindo de San Pedro custaria mais de B$ 700,00 além de mais tempo de navegação. A viagem em uma lancha rápida é de 2 horas de ida e mais 2 horas de volta, inclui almoço e 3 mergulhos com uma parada rápida na Área de Preservação em Half Moon Caye (taxa de entrada na área é cobrada à parte.)

Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

Half Moon Caye, perto do Blue Hole, na grande barreira de corais, em Belize

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#468159 - 07/15/13 11:26 AM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
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My trip to the Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

Image via farhanazam015

When I signed up to take Tropical Ecology as an undergraduate at Loyola University New Orleans, I had no idea that the final exam would be a two-week trip to Belize. Imagine my surprise on the first day of class as my professor, Dr. Bob, explained that we’d be spending time at a jaguar sanctuary, in a modern Mayan village and on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean to learn first-hand about the flora and fauna of the tropics. I packed up my dad’s old yellow hiking backpack with sunscreen and bathing suits and got ready to explore Belize.

After 10 days of exploring the Cockscombe Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and living among the modern Maya in a remote village, we traded our hiking boots for flip-flops, boarded a boat in Belize City called Captain Hoho and headed out to Half Moon Caye.

Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

Half Moon Caye, via TripAdvisor

Half Moon Caye is a tiny 40-acre island located about 50 miles southeast of Belize City. It is a National Monument in Belize, which means that no one lives there, save for one lucky caretaker. It is the closest I’ve ever seen to a real desert island—just an expanse of sand and palm trees that is home to about 4000 Red-Footed Boobies. By night, we dined on freshly caught fish by the shore, and slept in hammocks strung up between the palm trees, swinging gently in the sea breeze.

 

Hole in the Bottom of the SeaBelizean hammocks, via TripAdvisor

By day, we explored the clear Caribbean waters around us, some of us snorkeling and others scuba diving. We swam with schools of enormous grouper, so close that we could feel their scaly bodies slipping past our arms and legs in the water. We watched crabs scuttle sideways along the seafloor. We saw brightly colored fish of every hue, the likes of which we’d never seen outside of an aquarium.

Little Cayman

School of grouper, via www.reef.org

One magical day, Captain Hoho sputtered to a stop over the Lighthouse Reef at the edge of the Great Blue Hole. I had never seen ocean water that color—a deep, rich navy blue. We suited up, and we dove in.

What we experienced there is beyond words. Feeling the pull of the abyss below you, tiger sharks circling in the murky dark… I breathed a long wowwwwwwww into my snorkel before I could stop myself.

I don’t have photographic evidence of my own trip into the blue, but check out this great video of MSNBC’s Matt Lauer’s dive into the Great Blue Hole to get a feel for what I experienced that day:

My trip to Belize and the Great Blue Hole was an unforgettable experience that I will carry with me forever. Of course, I was delighted when I had the opportunity to pull from my own experience when we decided to set our version of A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea at Great Blue Hole. It is such a joy to bring the magic of this incredible place to a new generation of young explorers. I love how the book turned out, and I hope you’ll love it too. Anchors aweigh!

Hitbots Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

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What It’s Really Like To Dive The Great Blue Hole

Blue Hole Belize

One of Belize’s major attractions, the Great Blue Hole

Thousands of Scuba Divers flock to Belize annually, and most of them only have the Great Blue Hole to check off their list. It is perhaps the most famous dive site in Belize, definitely one of the most advertised by domestic tourism investors, yet it disappoints many divers. Imagine, after weeks or months of anticipation and after all the hyped up articles and Ads with cliché captions, you complete a dive and realize you would be just fine if you never did it again? This is the reaction I have mostly seen over the hundreds of trips I have supervised at the Blue Hole, and I feel obligated to mention, before I go any further, that this dive site is a tad over rated, and could be very disappointing if you are the type of diver who enjoys colorful coral reef diving.

It saddens me to say that the Blue Hole of Belize has become known only as a “bucket list dive”, because for most, it’s the type you absolutely must get off your list but really don’t care if you ever visit again. There’s hope however, for I think false assumptions and expectations are one of the main causes of disappointment. This dive site is different, it is the sort of novelty dive that, given the right conditions, can be enjoyed if approached with the right mind-set and expectations.

Diving The Belize Blue Hole

Belize Blue Hole

Me at 130 Ft. in the Great Blue Hole. Photo by dive buddy Gordon Kirkwood

To begin, there is a lot to be enjoyed from the Blue Hole dive but it also requires a certain level of experience and responsibility that some new divers just don’t have. On a day where the visibility is excellent and the wildlife are roaming, it can be an otherworldly experience. The dive begins with a descent of 40Ft/12M to a sandy limestone shelf that surrounds the Blue Hole. The shelf begins as a wall at about 1ft or 1/3 of a meter and is covered with coral until about 18ft or 6 meters where it becomes a gentle sandy incline that leads up to a dark abyss. If you dive off the local dive boats, you are given about a minute or two to descend and equalize then you are led to the drop off where you will descend freely into the darkness. As you descend, the depths drain the colors to a gloomy hue not much different from the natural light you see right after dusk. The only reference is a limestone wall to your left. At about 60 feet, you begin to see silhouettes with that familiar streamlined shape, of one of the ocean’s most fascinating predators. Soon enough, depending on your luck, you descend past 10 to 15 Caribbean Reef Sharks circling off to your right in the in the watery void. Your descent is continuous up until about 100 Ft/ 30 meters where you veer off toward grayscale columns hanging off a ceiling in a cavern carved out of by erosion during the last ice age.

You now feel as though you are in a sort of gothic tale; quiet, overcast, and eerie. It’s as though you are personally experiencing a vague memory of a dive story being retold by a stranger in a dimly lit bar after a few beers. Then, you suddenly hear the clear sound of your dive leader banging on his tank, a tone that travels clearly, as though he is right next to you. It jolts you back into reality. You look in front of you and see him telling you to level off, you are at your maximum depth; 132Ft/40M, and the cavern appears in front of you. You feel buzzed and realize that you are experiencing what your dive leader spoke of just a few minutes before you jumped in the water; the effects of the sometimes unavoidable Nitrogen Narcosis. You now recall him saying, that you should not be afraid of the effects and that it wears off as soon as you come up shallower, and that you might like it if you stay calm. You don’t ascend, you continue to follow your dive leader and realize that it does feel, at the least, interesting. A reminder of Actun Tunichil Muknal, the jungle caving expedition you had earlier in the week, you continue past enormous stalactites that hang from the ceiling like Stone Age chandeliers. They have existed several millennia before Christopher Columbus’s famous voyage, in the distance, some 40 feet above you, the silhouettes of shark’s still circle their territory, occasionally you see one or two shoot up from the blackness below like jet fighters at an air show; bolting toward shallower depths above. On uncommon occasions a hammer head that lives near the area may appear out of the darkness, keep an open eye, a hammer head sighting can make any dive exciting. Though I must admit, after hundreds of dives there, I’ve only met him/her twice.

After five minutes that seemed more like ten, you begin your slow ascent from your maximum depth, then all of a sudden, before you even notice, your Nitrogen buzz is gone. You come up past the sharks again, occasionally a curious one comes within arm’s reach inspecting the visitors in its territory. You again find yourself on the sandy shelf, this time you are treated to tiny bubbles dancing out of tiny holes in the sandy floor, they are the bubbles that you exhaled at your maximum depth seeping through the cracks in cavern roof on their way to the surface. Finally, the shape of your dive boat appears above and your dive leader signals for you to do a safety stop.  In total, you finish a 30 minute dive at the most, but 25 to 27 minutes is the norm, one last potential disappointment to mentally prepare for just in case you are the sort of diver who loves 60 minute dives.

How To Be Prepared

The Blue Hole, with just a dash of luck, can be a worthy experience, but it is also important to be aware of the dangers of this type of dive, and the personal duties you have as a diver, even when under the supervision of a Dive Master. I shall share a few but if you are really unsure about your capabilities or if any of what I mention is completely new to you, you should do a little more diving or get some deep training before you dive at such depths. First, ascend until you get the signal from the DM and ascend when they tell you to. Second, if you have a dive computer or are renting one, adjust your depth according to your NDL or No Decompression Limit. If you have a rental computer, this is rather obvious, make sure you are briefed on how to use it and always ascend at a reasonable rate Be sure to take the steps necessary to remove as much potential causes of stress and you will definitely have a better dive. . Lastly, find a Dive Buddy who will not be one of those stress factors and do not be the cause of stress for another diver.

Many come up unmoved by what the site had to offer but maybe, just maybe, if your expectations weren’t inflated, and the conditions were excellent, the dive could be unforgettable.

Source


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#469540 - 08/04/13 11:41 AM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Understanding Sharks Body Language, Lighthouse Reef

If you're a diver or snorkeling, it's good to understand a sharks body language and if it's comfortable with your presence or not. Here's a look at the sharks at Half Moon Wall.


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#469552 - 08/04/13 02:16 PM Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video [Re: Marty]
ScubaLdy Offline
This looked very interesting and potentially informative - however- the lettering is so small and blurry that there was little that could be read.
_________________________
Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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