REPORT #21 1998

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Between the south point of Glovers Reef Atoll and Utilla and Half Moon Caye and the coast off Puerto Cortez, there is a circular current around 60 to 80 miles wide. The few dead bodies I know of, with life jackets still on, have gone around this very large Gulf of Honduras eddy. It runs counter clockwise. There is an abundance of blackfin tuna schools in this 80 miles diameter area. Coming from inside, at the Rio Dulce you get quite a current outflow, which for the most part flows along the coast of Honduras. It curves north around the Bay Islands to Glovers Reef Atoll and returns south by Half Moon Caye on the end of the barrier reef. I suspect that there is some big game fish underwater canyons around Half Moon Caye in the strait there. It would be interesting to see the underwater geology. There is a similar situation off Pensacola, Florida out about 90 miles in the gulf of Mexico. Here there is a deep canyon that hits a dead end, the current coming into this submerged canyon, gets forced upward taking phyto plankton and other goods stuff and within a half mile of the top of the canyon, on the sea surface above, a very big sportsfishing gamefishing industry has developed, for sailfish, marlin, tuna and stuff. They congregate around the vertical current wall of the sea food chain that develops from the underwater current.

Off Half Moon Caye, what you would be looking for would be an underwater canyon, or block, or dead end wall. The West of Utilla is one place, the east off Glovers Reef another place. But there should be something close to Half Moon Caye. The current along Puerto Cortez area flows about 4 to 6 miles an hour. A hell of a mess, if you are coming by sailboat with no engine from Ranguana Caye entrance to get to the harbor in Puerto Cortez, because you have to offset the lighthouse, fuel tanks and radio tower by nearly 8 miles to the West in order to make the harbor, when the current sweeps you inexorably east. I have spent up to six hours sometimes trying to round the damn buoy on the harbor point and could spit on the darn steel buoy sometimes, but never make it into the harbor and have to go back out into the ocean and sail six or eight miles west against the current before, going close inshore to the rocky mountainous coast. It is treacherous without motor also, because the bank shallows and the waves get tremendously big, trying to sail along the rocky coast to make the harbor in Puerto Cortez without an engine. In my 25 ft. Buccaneer sloop, the waves would break and wash completely over the boat, they were so steep walled. In my 34 ft motorsailer Atoll Queen, it was no problem with both diesels and sails chugging, but still a slow last 45 minutes to get into the harbor around the point on the peninsular.

The schools of blackfin tuna that are in this huge ocean eddy, also support enough fish schools to attract the huge whale shark. Many a 45 footer has been sighted off the barrier reef of Belize, going south to this feeding ground. They make you feel puny, when you are out in an 18 foot boat and travel quite fast without any apparent difficult swimming motion. Where there are blackfin tuna schools there are mackerel schools and probably the big game fish that attract the well healed tourist.

What has stopped tourism development in this southern area has been the lack of shops, a harbor to protect big sportsfishermen from the winter northers and subsequent waves from the inland sea of Belize. Also a location to put any kind of tourist hotel facility. The only places are Sapadillo Cayes and Hunting Caye proper if memory serves me right. If the communications and shopping problems could be solved. The international treaties, or whatever political problems with the use of Sapodilla Cayes, a harbor and docks, there is the equivalent potential of another Bahama style Bimini fishing town situation, dedicated to offshore sports fisherman for the well healed millionaire tourist.

Between Hunting Caye and Puerto Cortez lies a subterranean earthquake fault and every eight years or so, there is a 6.0 earthquake in the ocean. I was in one in Puerto Cortez one time and the earthquake is just a few miles off shore. The hotel roof opened up, I was on my bed and hanging on, as it careened around the room on it's wheeled castors, slamming from wall to wall. I was thinking from my war time experiencces that I should be under the bed, but couldn't move. Thankfully the building stood and the roof came back down on the sills and not on top of me. There was a foot gap and you could see the clouds and blue sky.

At any rate, the recent sports fishing tournament that was recently at South Water Caye and went out to Glovers Reef Atoll, need to move south and offshore from Sapodilla Cayes. There are a lot of schools of fish out there in that huge ocean eddy. If, you could find the underwater geography and locate a blockage to the main current flow, which is counter clockwise, you would have a ready made tourist fishing industry for the big expensive playboy set.

Back to Main Belize Development Trust Page

Maintained by Ray Auxillou, Silvia Pinzon, MLS, and Marty Casado. Please email with suggestions or additions for this Electronic Library of Belize.