Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video

Posted By: Marty

Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 04/23/12 01:04 PM

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.

The Great Blue Hole remains one of the top attractions in Belize. It is not only a world class destination for diving but also a rich habitat for a variety of marine life like nurse sharks, reef sharks, black tip sharks and even giant groupers.

Here are ten things you probably didn't know about the great blue hole of Belize.

- 1. The great blue hole is a tremendous underwater sinkhole that is located off the coast of Belize and lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef.

- 2. The actual name of “The Great Blue Hole” was created by British diver and author Ned Middleton after having lived in Belize for 6 months. He was so impressed with this natural feature that he reasoned in his book “Ten Years Underwater” that if Australia could have ‘The Great Barrier Reef’ then Belize could equally have ‘The Great Blue Hole’ – thus setting this feature apart from similar, albeit lesser in size, structures.

- 3. The hole is circular in shape and has over 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. It is the world’s largest natural formation of its kind and is part of the Belize Barrier Reef System.

- 4. Giant stalactites, dripstone sheets, and columns can be found inside the blue hole. Scientists believe that these structures were formed in a dry cavern above sea level during glacial periods.

- 5. Analysis of stalactites found in Great Blue Hole shows that formation took place 153,000; 66,000; 60,000; and 15,000 years ago.

- 6. The French Explorer Jacques Cousteau revealed the secrets of the great Blue Hole to millions of viewers in a television series called “The Undersea World of Jaques-Cousteau”.

- 7. The Blue Hole Monument is one of the seven wonders of Belize’s World Heritage site.

- 8. In April of 2012, Bill Gates, the 2nd richest man in the world visited the Great Blue Hole with his family.

- 9. Day trips to the Great Blue Hole are full-day trips and are offered from the coastal tourist communities in Belize. The tour usually includes one dive in the Blue Hole and a dive on Half Moon Wall.

- 10. The Discovery Channel ranked the Great Blue Hole as number one on its list of “The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth”.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 12/17/12 02:15 PM

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.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 01/28/13 02:23 PM


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

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 03/01/13 03:07 PM

VIDEO: Huron Scuba Dive Team - Belize 2012/2013

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

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 03/17/13 02:23 PM

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

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 04/19/13 12:55 PM

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.


Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 05/06/13 11:33 AM

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


Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 07/15/13 11:26 AM

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

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


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.


Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 08/04/13 11:41 AM

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.

Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 08/04/13 02:16 PM

This looked very interesting and potentially informative - however- the lettering is so small and blurry that there was little that could be read.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 01/06/14 10:43 AM

Diving with the biggest shark in the deepest hole

The Great Blue Hole is known to be one of the world’s top ten dive sites, dubbed by the famous Jacques Cousteau, who discovered it in 1971. I along with many other divers would not disagree. It is here, even as a Dive Master, I have experienced one of the best days of diving ever.

Rarely can I dive no shirt without getting cold – Loved it!

Belize is a little country in Central America; it’s located on the southeastern side of Central America, just below the most eastern part of Mexico and fronting the Caribbean Sea. I spent 5 days just off the coast on an Island called Ambergris Caye, which is just north of another amazing island named Caye Caulker, famous for its super chilled vibe. From either of these two Islands you can take tours out to dive or snorkel the famous Blue Hole.

The day tour that I took consisted of 3 dives, which I will never for the life of me forget. Our first dive was into the Great Blue Hole, where we swam through the amazing stalactites, which when exiting, we had a visit from a 6-8ft reef shark that circled by to check us out. I couldn’t believe it, it was the biggest shark I had actually swam with. It was so refreshing to be under the water with it instead of sitting on my board (surfing) being scared shitless from the sight of a shape/fin. I was in total awe at its sheer gracefulness through the water, its true; sharks are king of the ocean.

Little Caribbean Island on the boat trip out

Upon climbing back aboard the boat my ear-to-ear grin could not be wiped from my face. Then it was on to the next dive site of Half Moon Caye. Not expecting it be as a good as the last dive, I was astounded at the clarity of the water when I jumped in. It was as though I was looking into a recently cleaned life size aquarium full of bright fluorescent sea life all around me. I asked my guide what the visibility was, to which he explained we were more than lucky as it was an unbelievable day at 120ft-130ft visibility, where as usually its 80-90ft which alone is quite incredible.

Docking for a lunch break

After two of the most amazing dives of my life, the boat took us to the island of Half Moon Caye for lunch, where we feasted and relaxed, letting the nitrogen release from our bodies. The Island we ate lunch on, mimicked a magazine center fold of a exquisite tropical getaway. It had pure white sand, with old abandoned buildings that had suffered from years of ocean sea breezes along with a quaint little forest inhabited by birds. You couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing place to enjoy your lunch.

Half Moon Caye

If you are a keen diver, love the tropics and crave visiting the Caribbean to dive, free dive, snorkel or take a relaxing break, the islands off Belize are the place to do it. Oh did I mention it’s cheap!

Myself and 2 mates stayed at Pedro’s Inn for 5 days which is inexpensive, close walking distance to the shops and the docks and it’s not right in the hustle and bustle of it all. They guy who runs the place is super nice and will help you out with whom to book tours through without getting scammed.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 04/07/14 11:35 AM

Into the blue: The jawdropping 310 metre wide Great Blue Hole in Belize

The Great Blue Hole in Belize.

The Great Blue Hole in Belize. Source: Flickr

AT 310m wide and 125m deep, this azure submarine sinkhole is a paradise for divers in search of crystal-clear water that hides treasures in its depths.

Welcome to the Great Blue Hole near Belize, a spectacular sight which Lonely Planet has explored for the new book The World’s Great Wonders.

From above, it looks like an eye — a large, dark pupil surrounded by a sliver of turquoise iris, framed by the eyelids of the reef. But now that you’re within its embrace, it’s hard to get a sense of its circular shape.

A school of yellow angelfish linger by the reef. A lone parrotfish nibbles on the coral. Pressing on your scuba gear’s purge valve, you follow the stream of bubbles from fellow divers. As you sink lower, you are surprised by the absence of marine wildlife down here. You peer into the darkness, hoping for a glimpse of a turtle, or maybe a shark. But 40m down, there is an even more spectacular sight.

Stalactites. The long swords of limestone, some 10m in length, cling to the roofs of cave inlets. At this depth they appear dirty brown in colour. You approach them tentatively, aware that one flick of a wayward fin could shatter eons of history. After all, stalactites started to form in these caves over 150,000 years ago.

Into the blue

The Great Blue Hole sits in the centre of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 70km off the coast of Belize. It’s a diving hotspot, described by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top 10 diving sites in the world. In 1971, Cousteau took his ship Calypso to the Great Blue Hole to chart its depths.

When it first formed thousands of years ago, the sinkhole was not underwater. Scientists know this because stalactites exist inside the sinkhole, and yet stalactites cannot form underwater, only in dry air.

Deep inside a jawdropping 310m sinkhole

The stunning sight. Source: ThinkStock

The different layers down the lengths of the stalactites act like a climate timeline. Around 150,000 years ago, when sea levels were 120m lower than today, subterranean caverns started to form. Then as the oceans began to rise, the caves gradually flooded.

Underwater photo of brain coral and trunk fish taken in the Great Blue Hole.

Underwater photo of brain coral and trunk fish taken in the Great Blue Hole. Source: Flickr

Getting to the Great Blue Hole

Fly into Belize City, or arrive overland from Guatemala or Mexico, or by boat from Guatemala or Honduras. Getting around Belize’s islands and reefs involves taking tours or diving and snorkelling trips, using boats organised by island accommodations or chartering a vessel.

A woman freediving in the ocean.

A woman freediving in the ocean. Source: ThinkStock

While you’re there

Float downriver from Orange Walk Town into the depths of the jungle and the ruins of Lamanai, whose High Temple was one of the largest structures in the Mayan world when it was built in 100BC. Then search for elusive jaguar in the world’s only jaguar reserve, the 518-sq-km Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. The jungle is home to all sorts of wildlife, including crocodiles, iguanas, peccaries, coatimundis, spider monkeys and howler monkeys, and countless species of birds. For a staggering array of marine wildlife, kayak Glover’s Reef, where the cays in the central lagoon all have white-coral beaches.

Temple in Lamanai.

Temple in Lamanai. Source: ThinkStock

Other great locations for blue holes

The Bahamas have more blue holes than any other country in the world and boast the deepest submarine sinkhole, Dean’s Blue Hole, which plunges 202m down in a bay west of Long Island. It’s also home to many inland caves, such as those on the Abaco Islands, which have been flooded by the sea via underground channels.

A woman free diving in a blue hole in the Bahamas.

A woman free diving in a blue hole in the Bahamas. Source: ThinkStock

As tides have less impact in these inland caves, a layer of fresh rainwater sits on top of the denser salt water, cutting it off from atmospheric oxygen. Thriving in this anoxic lower layer are unique bacteria, whose metabolism heats the water up to as much as 40 degrees celcius.

This is an extract from The World’s Great Wonders by Jheni Osman © Lonely Planet 2014. In stores now, RRP: $34.99

The World’s Great Wonders.

The World’s Great Wonders. Source: Supplied

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 08/23/14 11:41 AM

The Playground at Half Moon Wall

10 yr old Jr. Open Water Diver celebrates his first shark dive.

Half Moon Caye - Half Moon Wall - Long caye Aquarium August 3 2014

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 09/03/14 07:03 PM

Video: Half Moon Caye trip

By Oceana Belize

Stunning aerial views and interviews, including the wife of the Prime Minister Kim Simplis Barrow and their daughter, Salima.

Every year, approximately ten thousand tourists visit the Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Natural Monuments. Unfortunately, of that number, very few are Belizeans. As part of ongoing efforts to have Belizeans enjoy Belizean resources, this weekend, Oceana, in collaboration with the Belize Audubon Society, organized a visit to the these World Heritage Sites for two Belizeans who had never been to the Lighthouse Reef Atoll: wife of the Prime Minister Kim Simplis Barrow and their daughter, Salima. And while it may have been their first visit, as the following video highlights, it definitely won’t be their last.

The Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monuments are among the oldest protected sites in Belize. There are no entrance fees for visits to the Great Blue Hole for Belizeans while the entrance fee for Belizeans to Half Moon Caye is two dollars and fifty cents.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 09/30/14 11:48 AM

Belize 2013

A dive trip to Belize aboard the Sun Dancer !! in October of 2013.

Sun Dancer II, Lighthouse Reef: Long Caye, Ridge, Sand Box, Chain Wall, Long Caye Wall, Site Y, Uno Coco, Silver Caves, Blue Hole, Half Moon Caye Wall, Dinner,

Turneffe: Sandy Slope, Party, Credits.

Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 09/30/14 07:51 PM

Good controlled camera shots but way too long. Could be edited down to a snappy ten minutes instead of over a half an hour.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 12/08/14 10:09 AM

Belize, Half Moon Caye Wall

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 12/25/14 09:50 AM

An aerial view of the coral reef and deep cave that make up the famous diving spot of the Blue Hole in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Belize.

Belize's Famous 'Blue Hole' Reveals Clues to the Maya's Demise

The ancient Mayan civilization collapsed due to a century-long drought, new research suggests.

Minerals taken from Belize's famous underwater cave, known as the Blue Hole, as well as lagoons nearby, show that an extreme drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, right when the Mayan civilization disintegrated. After the rains returned, the Mayans moved north — but they disappeared again a few centuries later, and that disappearance occurred at the same time as another dry spell, the sediments reveal. [In Photos: Stunning Sinkholes]

Although the findings aren't the first to tie a drought to the Mayan culture's demise, the new results strengthen the case that dry periods were indeed the culprit. That's because the data come from several spots in a region central to the Mayan heartland, said study co-author André Droxler, an Earth scientist at Rice University.

Rise and decline From A.D. 300 to A.D. 700, the Mayan civilization flourished in the Yucatan peninsula. These ancient Mesoamericans built stunning pyramids, mastered astronomy, and developed both a hieroglyphic writing system and a calendar system, which is famous for allegedly predicting that the world would end in 2012.

But in the centuries after A.D. 700, the civilization's building activities slowed and the culture descended into warfare and anarchy. Historians have speculatively linked that decline with everything from the ancient society's fear of malevolent spirits to deforestation completed to make way for cropland to the loss of favored foods, such as the Tikal deer.

The evidence for a drought has been growing in recent years: Since at least 1995, scientists have been looking more closely at the effects of drought. A 2012 study in the journal Science analyzed a 2,000-year-old stalagmite from a cave in southern Belize and found that sharp decreases in rainfall coincided with periods of decline in the culture. But that data came from just one cave, which meant it was difficult to make predictions for the area as a whole, Droxler said.

The main driver of this drought is thought to have been a shift in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), a weather system that generally dumps water on tropical regions of the world while drying out the subtropics. During summers, the ITCZ pelts the Yucatan peninsula with rain, but the system travels farther south in the winter. Many scientists have suggested that during the Mayan decline, this monsoon system may have missed the Yucatan peninsula altogether.

Deep history To look for signs of drought, the team drilled cores from the sediments in the Blue Hole of Lighthouse lagoon, as well one in the Rhomboid reef. The lagoons surrounded on all sides by thick walls of coral reef. During storms or wetter periods, excess water runs off from rivers and streams, overtops the retaining walls, and is deposited in a thin layer at the top of the lagoon. From there, all the sediments from these streams settle to the bottom of the lagoon, piling on top of each other and leaving a chronological record of the historical climate.

"It's like a big bucket. It's a sediment trap," Droxler told Live Science.

Droxler and his colleagues analyzed the chemical composition of the cores, in particular the ratio of titanium to aluminum. When the rains fall, it eats away at the volcanic rocks of the region, which contain titanium. The free titanium then sweeps into streams that reach the ocean. So relatively low ratios of titanium to aluminum correspond to periods with less rainfall, Droxler said.

The team found that during the period between A.D. 800 and A.D. 1000, when the Maya civilization collapsed, there were just one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, as opposed to the usual five or six. After that, the Maya moved north, building at sites such as Chichen Itza, in what is now Mexico.

But the new results also found that between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1100, during the height of the Little Ice Age, another major drought struck. This period coincides with the fall of Chichen Itza.

The findings strengthen the case that drought helped usher in the long decline of the Mayan culture.

"When you have major droughts, you start to get famines and unrest," Droxler said.

Live Science
Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 01/12/15 10:15 AM

Spotted Eagle Ray, Half Moon Caye

by Simon Backley....

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 01/13/15 10:25 AM

Dolphins Off the Coast of Belize

A pod of about 50 dolphins plays around our boat on a return trip from Half Moon Caye. Shot near Lighthouse Reef, about 2.5 hours off the coast.

May 6th, 2014 - Half Moon Caye, Belize (#14)

Amazing corals, very cool landscape, barracuda, garden eels, spotted eagle ray (very faint, just before the...), Caribbean reef shark, and a turtle while we were doing out safety stop. Best dive so far!


by Rachel Oakley in Cool Travel

I know, I know, the name doesn’t do it justice but the Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is a must if you’re travelling through Central America. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1996, the Great Blue Hole was originally a limestone cave that started to form about 150,000 years ago. Today, it’s one of the greatest places for experienced divers to explore.

The deepest point of the Great Blue Hole lies at 124 metres, but if that doesn’t exhilarate you enough, then perhaps spotting nurse sharks, giant groupers, and other reef sharks might! Yup, they’re all here in this stunning part of the world.

If diving isn’t your thing, you can take to the skies on a Blue Hole tour that flies you over the Belize Barrier Reef and the Great Blue Hole. Or, if you’ve got $15,000 handy, there’s a Blue Hole skydiving experience you’re sure to remember!

The Great Blue Hole in Belize
The Great Blue Hole in Belize
The Great Blue Hole in Belize

Half Moon Caye, Belize by aerial drone

Filmed during our Great Blue Hole diving trip.

Wall Diving the Caribbean!

Caribbean wall diving with graceful spotted eagle rays, curious caribbean reef sharks, nosey nurse sharks, slithering giant green morey eels, large grouper, southern stingrays, lazy lobster, and much more all up close and personal. This week of diving included my wife 100th dive logged in just over two years after certification. Her buoyancy control is amazing! Dive sites included Half Moon Caye, Glovers Reef, Blue Hole, and all the surrounding areas. Warm Caribbean diving never disappoints. Belize is our favorite in those waters.

Belize Lighthouse Reef Drone Shot

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 01/20/15 11:00 AM

Belize it or not, we’re diving the Great Blue Hole

Like a massive pupil in a sea of turquoise, the Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is easily considered the most amazing underwater sinkhole in the world. There are others that are deeper and larger in diameter but none can compete with the splendor of this natural depression.

The Great Blue Hole formed as a limestone cave system during the last ice age when sea levels were lower, and the caves flooded as the planet warmed and sea levels rose. Jacques-Yves Cousteau made the site famous in 1972 when he explored the area with his research ship, the Calypso. It was quickly declared one of the top 10 scuba diving sites in the world.

At nearly 1000 feet wide and 480 feet deep, it’s a feature attraction for gutsy divers looking for the adventure of a lifetime.

Exploring the famed hole is a specialty for the guys who run the Amigos Del Mar Dive Shop in San Pedro, a laid-back settlement of 10,000 people on the island Ambergris Caye. Tourism has replaced the once-dusty fishing village with low-rise hotels, cold beer and sandy beaches.

Diving guides Maverick, Michael, Jorge and Captain Edgar briefed our group of eight divers before we headed east for about 60 miles or 2.5 hours, bobbing up and down on moderate waves.

My boyfriend George became PADI-certified in June 2014. Other than taking his dive exams in the waters of Lake George last summer, he had zero dive experience. Would this first dive prove too risky or scary? The dive exceeds the depth limit of an Open Water Certified Diver by a few feet.

Many people liken this dive to a spiritual or sacred experience. It’s on most diver’s top ten bucket list. George and I were about to find out how our bodies would adjust to a murky abyss at nearly 140-feet.

Geared up, we entered the shallow rim of the Great Blue Hole basking in the temperate 76-degree water. One diver after another launched themselves off the back end of the dive boat with the assistance of a helpful crew.

When it was my turn, a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety hit me. “Get a grip, Sonja, you can do this,” I said to myself. Before I could equalize, something had triggered an unwanted phobia and with it came symptoms of vertigo, hyperventilation and irrational thoughts.

To hell with George, would I be able to do this?

I motioned for Captain Edgar to stay close. Trained to recognize stress, he held my hand and calmed my the fears to a point where I could descend like the rest of the group.

Laser-like sunbeams sliced through the crystal-clear waters of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. At a depth 40 feet, the rim is a bounty of colorful marine life and coral formations. The shallow seabed makes for perfect snorkeling for those who prefer to swim at the surface.

A chill of cold water hits my shoulders and it time to descend deeper. The limestone dive wall is etched with snails and mollusks. It’s a continuous sheer drop for about 60 feet, at which point I begin to see the familiar silhouette of the ocean’s most misunderstood predator: shark.

A couple reef and bull sharks circled in the watery Caribbean void. They aren’t interested in us but linger long enough for me to stay vigilant of their presence. I didn’t see any but I’m told that hammerhead sharks also patrol here.

At 100 feet, the effects of nitrogen narcosis is very real. It didn’t affect us but others would later describe a temporary loss of senses and movement, almost like being intoxicated.

At 120 feet, I began to recognize gray columns hanging from the cavern ceiling, stalactites 20 feet in length that dwarf all divers. Mesmerizing!

It is deadly quiet, eerily-so, at this point. Edgar finally releases my hand to show me a trick. He takes the respirator out of his mouth and blows air up and into a small air gap or pocket in the shelf of the cave. The bubbles resemble smoke vapors spreading into a wildfire.

Like the experiment where you turn a cup upside-down and submerge in water, the cave ceiling has small pockets of trapped air too. This air is a relic from countless eons ago and believe it or not, is still breathable but not enough to sustain life. Like a diving bell, the only way air can escape is by diffusing itself through the water, one molecule at a time.

Diving the chasm is an unforgettable experience. For eight minutes we swim past a breeding ground of giant gray monoliths and harmless sharks. Some might argue that it’s too isolating, too remote a place, but the experience lives up to all the hype described on websites and guide books.

Stay tuned: When I get back from Belize, I’ve got hours of video that I’ll edit into a summary of the adventure.

Times Union

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 06/18/15 09:13 PM

Half Moon Caye, Belize 2015

La segunda parte de nuestros viaje: Half Moon Cay, Belize 2015, Gracias por su participacion en una aventura mas de Scuba Excite!!

Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 06/19/15 12:11 AM

Nice video and I like that you added stills at the end and ID'ed the divers. Since when did Half Moon Caye have so many sharks?
Posted By: seashell

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 07/04/15 09:24 AM

What happened to the video?

Harriette, since I didn't actually see the video, I'm going to assume it included the four sharks that ehave been hanging around Halfmoon Wall site for at least couple of years.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 02/12/16 12:13 PM

Diving the Great Blue Hole of Belize

We decided to not skip the next destination against many people’s advice. ‘Belize is too expensive for what it has to offer’, they said. But being a passionate Scuba Diver and stubborn on top of that, we went anyways. We simply couldn’t resist and there was no way that my traveller soul would have ever rested in peace without having experienced one of the highlights of that place: diving the Blue Hole of Belize. To be fair, it is a more expensive country compared to its neighbours. Here are our tips to help you turn your trip into an unforgettable memory.

Beautiful spot to have a break between your dives…

Where to stay when diving the ‘Blue Hole’ of Belize

We opted for Caye Caulker because the bigger island, Caye Ambergris, sounded too crowded, touristy and expensive for our taste. And if you compare the costs of the dive trips there is actually no big difference from whichever island you go, both Caye Ambergris and Caulker offer day-trips to the ‘Blue Hole’ for similar deals. Caye Caulker is a bit more laid back than it’s bigger sister Ambergris. There are no cars on the island, people sell their arts and handicrafts on the street, you hear music but you can also enjoy peaceful tranquility if you stay away from the small town centre.

Enjoying a cup of coffee in one of the island’s restaurants…

There are not many budget accommodation options on the island: Yumas House BelizeDirty Mcnasty’s HostelHostel La Vista and Pedro’s Inn Backpacker Hostel. But these few ones are likely to be booked. At least when we got there the hostels were all full and we had to stay in one of the mid-range hotels. Ouch! So make sure you do your research well before your trip… But once you’ve decided to go, it’s easy to not regret it, either way it’s a fantastic island and connecting it with your dive at the Great Blue Hole will make it one trip you’ll never forget.

Choosing a Dive Company for your Trip to the Great Blue Hole of Belize

‘Frenchie’s’ is a locally run business with a great crew and equipment.

When you walk the streets on Caye Caulker, you get the impression that there are a LOT of dive companies on the island. But actually there are only three dive shops that take you onto a Day-trip to the ‘Blue Hole’: Belize Diving ServicesFrenchie’s Diving Services and Big Fish Dive Centre. All the other small shops that try to sell you their spots, refer you later on to one of these three companies. So, if you don’t want pay a commission on top of the regular price and see directly who you are going with, go straight to one of the above.

It all starts with a beautiful sunrise…

You will be rewarded for getting up at 5am…

Yes, it is painful and really way too early for being on a paradise island in holiday mood. But right from the start, your efforts will pay off. We met at 5:30am at Frenchie’s Dive shop in order to get ready to hop onto the boat. They gave us a light breakfast and coffee to wake up and had us double-check our gear that we tried on the day before. At 6am we were on the ocean towards the Blue Hole. It is around 110km away on the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, which means a 2 hour boat ride from Caye Caulker. Enough time to enjoy the view and get even more excited for the upcoming

Our Captain was smart enough to cover himself up against the wind of our speed boat…

The first Dive at the Blue Hole

I lost my underwater camera back on my dive trip in Cancun. So poor us, we’ll have the duty to memorise the underwater world till the end of our days. To break it down, here is how the dive at the Blue Hole was: it is a deep dive where we went down to 40 metres. Dropping into the deep while there is nothing but darkness below you is definitely one of the best parts of this dive. Once you hit 40 metres, you’re on level to the left with caves and stalagmites. To your right you see a dark blue and sometimes a shark swimming past. It’s an incredible feeling to imagine that you are inside an almost perfect circular cave with 124 metres of depth and a diameter of 305 metres.

Exhausted and a bit tired, but absolutely happy after our first dive in the Blue Hole.

Quickly after that amazing 35-minute dive, the captain took us to a small island about 20 minutes away from the Blue Hole. The people on the boat who did not go diving and just came to go snorkelling got off the boat and waited while we went on our second dive at the ‘Half Moon Wall’. This dive and also the third dive at the ‘Aquarium’ are very different to the first one at the Blue Hole. We saw a lot more fish and coral life on these last two ones but compared with the Blue Hole they are just ‘normal’ dives you could find in other places of the world. Not that I did not like them, actually I prefer coral reefs over caves and love seeing fish/turtles/sharks etc but I am glad to see what it’s like to dive in the Blue Hole.

Arriving in paradise…

With only 12 people on board and a very laid-back crew, we had a great time. But the setting they chose for our lunch break helped to give this day-trip a five star rating (if I could give one). Spending our surface time between dive number two and three on a little island close to the Lighthouse Atoll was the perfect combination of that magical dive in the Blue Hole. Here are some pictures, they speak for themselves…

Dolphins surprised us on our way back to Caye Caulker

And sometimes life is full of surprises and gives you something great and unexpected on top of things when you thought it can’t get any better: I was dozing away after three exciting dives and being softly rocked by the boat, when I heard the captain scream: DOLPHINS!!! Everyone jumped up and it’s the classical reaction that all want to see what’s on that side of the boat where everyone is staring at. It’s funny that gravity was with us in that moment, but I can’t blame my fellow passengers, it was really amazing to be greeted by at 50 dolphins who were jumping joyfully out of the water next to us…A perfect end to a perfect day!!!

Dolphins on the way back from Diving the Blue Hole of Belize

What a spectacular and joyful surprise on our way back from the Lighthouse Reef Atoll to Caye Caulker...the pod of dolphins would jump for ages next to our boat and made a perfect end to a perfect day.

Jey Jetter

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 02/15/16 07:39 PM

Blue Hole Reef Scenic Flight in Belize

One of the things I wanted to do when we started researching Belize was to see the Blue Hole Reef. It’s a circular-shaped reef around a really deep sinkhole, so the water looks super dark blue inside the reef and crystal clear blue outside. The photos I saw were gorgeous!

I found a snorkeling tour, but it left Caye Caulker at 6am and lasted about 12 hours or longer. That sounded like torture. For only US$10 more, there was an option to take a scenic flight over the reef. No early morning, no long day, and I’d get the aerial views of the reef, which is what I wanted more than snorkeling in it. Decision made, I signed up for the tour, and Andy opted to rent a kayak during the same time.

Blue Hole Reef Belize

The pilot took five of us up in a Piper Cherokee, and being by myself, I got to sit up front. This upset one of the other couples a little because the guy had a big fancy camera, and according to his girlfriend, “he really wants to take pictures.”

Yes dear, we ALL want to take pictures, that’s why we’re taking the flight. Everyone got a window, and guess what? Being in the front meant I couldn’t lean over to take pictures out the other window because that would’ve gotten in the way of the pilot, and it meant the few times I could actually see above the dashboard, I got the spinning propeller in my photos.

So while it was fun for me to sit up front, I think it would’ve annoyed the guy who wanted to take thousands of pictures of every nanosecond of the experience.

After the pilot arranged our seating in the plane, he flew us out over several other reefs, and even that view was pretty amazing.

Blue Hole Reef Belize

After about 20 minutes, we finally reached the Blue Hole.

Blue Hole Reef Belize

Blue Hole Reef Belize

Blue Hole Reef Belize

He made several loops in both directions above the reef so people on each side of the plane could take pictures. After a few loops, he made the turns even steeper and flew lower. Even knowing the pilot was well trained and does this flight quite often, I still got that nervous flip in my stomach.

Blue Hole Reef Belize

Blue Hole Reef Belize

That orange line indicates the horizon, so when the white line is lined up with the orange, it means the plane is upright and in line with the horizon. As you can see, we were tilted quite a bit.

When he was finally done with his loops, he flew straight over the reef at about 80 feet above the water, the lowest he flew during our scenic flight. I couldn’t help but panic a bit that we were going to hit the water, but again, I had to remind myself to calm down because he knew what he was doing. But really, I was thinking, STOP! There are no floats on this plane!

Nine years of working in aviation insurance and having so many pilot friends helps me remember to not worry in these situations. Obviously it doesn’t always work, but I try. And it really was fun to fly over the Blue Hole from so many different angles and heights.

Blue Hole Reef Belize

Next up we flew a few minutes over to a shipwreck. This cargo ship apparently has been there since the 70s, and it’s too expensive to get the ship out of there, so it adds a little bit of interesting scenery.

Blue Hole Reef Belize

Taking the Blue Hole Reef scenic flight

The scenic flight lasted about one hour or so. It took off and landed at the Caye Caulker Airport. Many travel agencies on the island can book it for you, and I recommend booking as soon as you get to the island. There is a minimum number of people they need to do the flight, so it helps to be flexible about the day.

I paid 400 Belize dollars for my scenic flight, which is just over US$200. I got picked up at my hotel and dropped off again after the flight. It was a little pricey, but totally worth it for those amazing views!

Belize The Hype!

Submerging first to a 12m shelf, a sandy slope leads down towards the hole itself. There’s no abundance of marine life here (which may come as a surprise to anyone who has dived elsewhere in Belize) but that’s not the point of this site. Instead, this is a dive that is all about the earth’s natural geologic design. Any marine life is a bonus.

16m down and the dive is already mesmerizing. The deep abyss of blue is truer than any I’ve seen before, heightened no doubt by a lack of light. Descending deeper still, it seems any light that does break through is immediately absorbed by the limestone.

The limestone itself is the only reference amidst the ever darkening blue, though it’s at this depth that there’s the best chance to see Caribbean and black tip reef sharks which will cruise past.

Soon after is when the first enormous stalactites appear, forming a cathedral-like cavern which caves downwards to 40m – the dive’s max depth. Circling back past these limestone chandeliers, we start to ascend and, as with any deep dive, it’s over all too quickly. Thankfully we have the second and third dives of the day to look forward to.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 11/19/16 06:25 AM

Into the Great Blue

I’m floating 70 kilometres offshore in the Great Blue Hole, a 125-metre deep sinkhole in Lighthouse Reef. And although aerial photos show a circular sapphire set in turquoise, it’s high tide, so it feels like we’re swimming in an oversized infinity pool.

It’s a surreal shade of blue that beckons with untold treasure. Measuring 300 metres across, this natural phenomenon became synonymous with Jacques-Yves Cousteau who popularized this Belize dive site in the early 1970s. At our basecamp on Half Moon Caye park ranger Bill from the Belize Audubon Society tells us that Cousteau “blew a piece of the crater out of the Blue Hole using dynamite” to gain better access to the heart of this adventure playground.

All of Belize seems primed for amusement or escape. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are still sun-drenched hotspots, and new properties promising exclusivity are also under development. Like the Itz’ana Belize Resort & Residences (opening in March 2017) with its luxury lagoon villas, solar cottages and private island (not to mention a library inspired by Ernest Hemingway). Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio’s passion project, Blackadore Caye, is taking sustainability to a utopian level, perhaps an homage to his movie, The Beach. The actor-activist’s offshore idyll will welcome residents and guests in 2018.

I’m staying a world away, spending six days at isolated off-the-grid basecamps on Glover’s Reef and Lighthouse Reef as part of a 10-day guided excursion with Island Expeditions. My journey with the British Columbia-based outfitter starts in Dangriga, a 15-minute flight from Belize City. It’s where we set off to explore the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second-largest barrier reef in the world.

Cousteau’s opening allows our boat, the only one there on this day, to enter the sinkhole’s inner chamber.

“Keep left,” says Rodney, one of three guides accompanying our group. As we jump off the boat to circumnavigate the inner rim of this abyss I’m aware that in the dark domain beneath my fin-clad feet are black-tipped sharks, stingrays and other outsized creatures that grow with wild abandon in this protected area.

My shallow breathing echoes in my ears. But as I swim out of the sinkhole’s shadows and into the beams of sunlight illuminating the clear water, massive purple and ochre fan corals wave in concert with the current to calm my nerves. Someone points out silly-looking black-and-white tiger tails—a type of sea cucumber—almost two metres long. Cartoonish-looking tube corals act as hideouts for fish. I glimpse twin triangles to my right: eagle rays flying in formation like fighter jets. A few of us try to keep up with these stealth creatures, but they disappear into the darkness. Exhilarated, we surface to share our amazement at what we’ve witnessed.

Back on shore at Southwest Caye, our basecamp on Glover’s Reef is the picture of lo-fi living. It’s a playful paradise-found. But not in a reality-TV kind of way where people eke out a Robinson Crusoe-type existence and shun creature comforts. The dozen white safari-style tents staked among the palms are a bit of bliss in the sand, cooled by breezes buffeting through screened windows.

My seaside home is a spartan-yet-comfy setup with a kerosene lantern atop a tiny table painted the precise shade of turquoise as the water. Nearby, camp cook Miss Annette emerges from a powder-blue building to say a shy hello before ducking back inside the kitchen to prep lunch: grilled snapper with homemade tartar sauce, bean salad and chewy coconut-ginger cookies. Like us, she’s a temporary castaway on this sliver of sand suspended in the Caribbean Sea.

It’s time to get back on the water. Six or so of our group settle into kayaks to explore a handful of the hundreds of patch reefs off Glover’s with our guides Mario and Mike. Just offshore we raft together and anchor in the shallow waters, trading paddles for snorkels and fins. Soon, I’m floating face-down, mesmerized by a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colours and shapes rearranging themselves before me as fish dart among coral colonies.

A flash of silver punctures my playful abstraction as Mario thrusts his spear into the belly of the beast—a Pacific red lionfish—and swims to the surface. Snorkels protruding from our mouths, our group gawks at this interloper in these otherwise pristine waters. Still alive, the painterly fish slips off the spear. Mario curses, takes a gulp of air and dives back underwater to recapture his prey, but he comes up empty; the invasive species won’t make it to the dinner table this time.

I spend hours exploring Glover’s seemingly limitless landscapes, lured to the life beneath the surface—day and night. Later, our guide Budge coaxes five of us into skipping hammock-and-beer downtime for more underwater exploration. We slide into a bed of seagrass for a moonlit snorkel, bubblegum-pink flashlights tethered to our wrists. Plunging into the darkness, it becomes clear that we’ve crashed an underwater party. Swarms of neon-blue fish bounce off my beam like strobes. Sleek squid, decorated in luminous green stripes, flutter past. A large spiny lobster glares at me with beady eyes.

A few days later, at Half Moon Caye and our Lighthouse Reef basecamp, the land- and water-based playing field amps up further. We snorkel near the remains of the old lighthouse that tumbled into the sea, dodge hermit crabs on the way to sunrise yoga classes and visit the colony of 3,000 sula sula (red-footed boobies) that live in the canopy of orange-blossomed ziricote trees. Guides Roo and Daton take us fishing outside of the protected area, where we bake in the sun and enjoy the thrill of feeling a tug on our lines.

“I caught another one!” says Calvin, a six-year-old from land-locked Colorado. It’s the eighth fish he’s hooked and part of a haul Roo cleans by the beach, tossing remains to the frigate birds and a nurse shark and stingray that swim right to shore. Our catch feeds the group at dinner. But not before the evening happy hour, when we drink beer with homemade cassava chips while watching the sun turn into a glowing orange orb on this idyllic playground.

Vancouver Sun

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 09/19/17 12:52 PM

26 Adventurous Hours Around Half Moon Caye, Belize
Thanks so much to SeaStar Belize for organizing this super fun camping-diving-snorkeling adventure to Half Moon Caye, Belize! In this “movie” we compressed 26 hours into 7 minutes. Our new GoPro did a great job capturing all of the beauty underwater at the Great Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye, Belize.

To read more about our adventure CLICK HERE!

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 10/19/17 07:23 PM

Going Deep into the Blue Hole

The Great Blue Hole in Belize is high up on any diver’s bucket list – and how could it not be with that deep blue ring surrounded by limestone reef? In reality, many divers who surface after the Blue Hole dive are very disappointed having laid down some serious cash to go diving in one of the most famous dive sites in the world. Your expectations would be pretty high right?

That’s where a lot of people go wrong. You can’t expect much in terms of coral, colour or even sea life on this dive because that’s not what it’s about! You’re here to dive in a massive sink hole, 318m in diameter and 124m deep.

The boat ride out from Caye Caulker was very smooth, I had picked a perfect day for it! At some point the Captain killed the engines and announced that we had arrived. Looking out at the horizon I expected to see the light blue ring of the reef but saw nothing but blue!

Click here to read the rest of the article in the Gallivanting Gus Blog

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 12/19/17 12:19 PM

In the footsteps of Jacques Cousteau: Researchers unveil the secret of the Blue Hole stalactite

In 1970, Jacques Cousteau and his team recovered an unusual stalactite from the depths of the Caribbean Sea. Now a geoscientist explains what it reveals about our climate since the last ice age.

Professor Eberhard Gischler and his doctoral researcher Dominik Schmitt with the last piece of the stalactite recovered from the Blue Hole by Jacques Cousteau in 1970. Credit: Daniel Parwareschnia

In 1970, a team led by French ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau recovered an unusual stalactite from the depths of the famous Blue Hole in the Caribbean Sea. In the current issue of the Journal of Sedimentary Research, geoscientist Eberhard Gischler of Goethe University Frankfurt explains what it reveals about our climate since the last ice age.

At the time, Jacques Cousteau's divers did not find any visible traces of living organisms in the mysterious Blue Hole. They did, however, find a large number of stalactites such as are known from karst caves. These are formed through the dissolution of limestone. Today the 125-metre-deep Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is flooded by the sea.

Frankfurt geoscientist Eberhard Gischler has been researching in Belize for over 25 years. He was given the unusual sample two years ago by Professor Robert Ginsburg at the University of Miami, with whom he worked in the 1990s as a postdoctoral researcher. Robert Ginsburg had in turn been given the stalactite by Jacques Cousteau immediately after it was found. Back then, he had the sample sawn into pieces and began to examine it together with marine geologist Bob Dill. Work did not, however, progress beyond a preliminary analysis. Added to this, the largest pieces of the stalactite went missing when the Ginsburg laboratory moved premises.

The cross section now being examined is the last specimen from Cousteau's stalactite. After almost 50 years, when the Blue Hole stalactite was in danger of being forgotten, Gischler, together with physicists from Goethe University Frankfurt and colleagues from the universities of Mainz, Hamburg and El Paso (USA) as well as GEOMAR in Kiel, has unveiled its secret.

By contrast to most stalactites, the outer layers of the Blue Hole stalactite are composed of marine deposits. Its concentric layers allow a detailed reconstruction of the climate in the late Pleistocene and the Holocene (the period from about 20,000 years ago to the present day). For example, the core formed during freshwater influx indicates surprisingly dry conditions during the Last Glacial Maximum and the following period (approximately 20,000 to 12,000 years before our time). The marine layers formed when the karst cave and the stalactite were flooded after the ice age by rising sea levels, i.e. over the last 11,000 years.

"Detailed climate reconstruction is, however, rendered difficult by the fact that the stalactite layers formed both on land as well as in seawater developed under the influence of microbial activity," explains Eberhard Gischler. The researchers are now decoding the types of microbial activity that influenced calcium precipitation during the stalactite's formation. On the basis of this study, it will be possible in future to make better use of the potential that stalactites with a complex formation history offer for the reconstruction of paleo-environmental conditions.

Together with doctoral researcher Dominik Schmitt, Gischler is currently working on other deposits in the shape of sediment drill cores up to 9 metres long, which were extracted from the floor of the Blue Hole in August. The sludge-like bottom sediment from the Blue Hole shows fine annual layering and will be used as a high-resolution storm and climate archive.

Story Source: Materials provided by Goethe University Frankfurt.

Journal Reference:

Eberhard Gischler, Daniel Birgel, Benjamin Brunner, Anton Eisenhauer, Gabriela Meyer, Stephan Buhre, JÖrn Peckmann. A Giant Underwater, Encrusted Stalactite from the Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef, Belize, Revisited: a Complex History of Biologically Induced Carbonate Accretion Under Changing Meteoric and Marine Conditions. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 2017; 87 (12): 1260 DOI: 10.2110/jsr.2017.72

Film about Jacques Cousteau’s recovery of the stalactite from the Blue Hole:

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 08/25/18 11:09 AM

Exploring Half Moon Caye

It is the furthest island point east of mainland Belize and the country’s oldest protected wildlife site that is famous for diving and birding. Half Moon Caye Natural Monument of Lighthouse Reef Atoll is located fifty-five miles east of Belize City and is known as the home of the boobies. It attracts thousands of tourists each year, but not enough Belizeans go to experience the natural, pristine beauty that is Half Moon Caye.  Reporter Andrea Polanco and cameraman Joel Wesbey went to experience the caye and to learn about some of the conservation efforts being led by co-manager Belize Audubon Society. In this first part of our series, we take a look the Half Moon Caye and its unique offerings.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Half Moon Caye Natural Monument was designated a protected a site in 1982 and is part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site. With its white, sandy beaches and some of the bluest waters, this caye is more than just a hot spot on a tourist’s stop. It’s known for its rich bio-diversity with forested parts of the island that serve as valuable habitat for species of birds and reptiles. From its resident ambassadors the booby birds, to the regular army of hermit crabs. And it is here on this caye, where the only population of the island leaf-toed gecko is found for the entire world.

Shane Young, Marine Protected Areas Manager, BAS

“The Island is unique. It is home to the white phase red-footed boobie birds. It is also serves as a nesting ground for three marine turtle species – the logger head, hawksbill and the green turtles. It is also home to the island leaf-toed gecko – an endemic species.”

Forty-one and a half acres of Half Moon Caye and just under ten acres of surrounding waters, are all protected. The Belize Audubon Society co-manages the Caye and here they lead research and other valuable conservation efforts, including the monitoring of the endangered sea turtles.

Shane Young

“We do carry out research and monitoring, as well. We carry out conch and lobster density surveys. We carry out coral health survey.  We also carry out sea grass surveys. We also monitor the boobie birds, as well. We also monitor the turtle nesting activities that occur on this island.”

And while there is a lot to see and do on the caye, the surrounding waters make for an equally exciting and fulfilling experience. Just beyond the shoreline, there is the half-moon caye wall – arguably one of the best dive and snorkel sites in all of Belize which is described as “six thousand feet of vertical abyss”.  Below the pristine hues of blues, there is an entire marine world thriving.  The diversity in marine life – from turtles, to sharks to rays and fish – is complemented with some of the most colorful, living coral and sponge formations.

Every year, around fourteen thousand international visitors visit the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument. Belizeans – not so many. And that is why manager Shane Young says they want to see more locals experience the beauty of Belize right here at the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument.

Shane Young

“We have visitation from foreigners. There is a lot of diving that is being done at Half Moon Caye Wall. I think it is one of the best dive sites in this country. I highly recommend that you try it if you are an avid diver.  In terms of Belizeans, I am hoping that we can get more Belizeans out here. This is the farthest land point for this country. If you look to the east, that is international waters. It is breath-taking. It is really breathtaking. I encourage Belizeans. I urge Belizeans to take the opportunity to come and visit. Keep in mind that the Great Blue Hole, the famous Blue Hole, also managed by the Belize Audubon Society, is only eight miles away.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, you can do both [sites] in one day?”

Shane Young

“Yes. You could do two in one day.”

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Another part of this story will be aired next week.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 08/24/20 10:53 AM

[Linked Image]

Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole

This photograph, taken by an International Space Station astronaut while in orbit over the Caribbean Sea, captures one of Earth’s most alluring ocean locations. The Great Blue Hole lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef atoll, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the coast of mainland Belize. The exceptional clarity of the water, characteristic of atolls in the Caribbean, allows the deeper (darker) hole to stand out against the shallower (lighter) waters of the reef.

The mysterious Great Blue Hole most likely formed during the last Ice Age, when global sea level was much lower. This marine sinkhole contains many geologic features, including limestone stalactites and stalagmites. It stretches 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) across and reaches depths of more than 120 meters (400 feet). The depths and compelling rock formations within the Great Blue Hole are intriguing to seasoned divers. While the reefs around it are teeming with life, the poor circulation of oxygen and lack of light at the bottom of the hole creates an inhospitable environment for most life forms.

Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole are just small pieces of the Belize Barrier Reef system, one of the world’s most pristine marine ecosystems. Comprised of fringing, barrier, and atoll reefs, the area supports a rich diversity of species. There are several natural monuments within the atoll, including Half Moon Caye, a marine protected area created by the Belizean government to support rare bird species.

The Belize Barrier Reef is an integral part of the greater Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second longest in the world. Stretching along 1000 kilometers (600 miles) of the coastlines of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, the reef system is a major hub for marine species and one of the most biodiverse places on Earth

NASA Earth
Posted By: Marty

Re: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Great Blue Hole Pics, Video - 12/12/20 12:23 PM

Diving Half Moon Caye - National Monument of Belize

Half Moon Caye is an island and natural monument of Belize located at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Halfmoon Caye, Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole are just small pieces of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most pristine marine ecosystems. There are several natural monuments within the Lighthouse reef atoll, including Half Moon Caye, a marine protected area created by the Belizean government to support rare bird species, especially the red footed boobie.
© 2021 Ambergris Caye Belize Message Board