365 feet to the bottom of the Blue Hole

Belize has become one of the premiere diving destinations in the world, and topping the list of dive sites is the magnificent Blue Hole. While thousands of divers have explored the walls and crevices of this mysterious formation, not one had documented reaching the bottom, until now.

A team of expert deepsea divers took the challenge to explore the extreme depths while documenting the adventure on high-definition video for a new DVD, Dive Portal Video Magazine. John Chatterton and Richie Kohler are the stars of the popular History Channel television show, Deep Sea Detectives. They have diverted slightly from exploring the galleys of long sunk shipwrecks to explore the natural formation of the famous Blue Hole. Accompanying the divers is underwater videographer, Evan Kovacs, who will be responsible for documenting the underwater adventure.

The challenge and appeal, according to the team, is that it had never been done before. Some rumors exist of divers reaching the bottom, and it is thought that the famous ocean explorer Jacque Cousteau had used a mini-submarine to explore the Hole’s depths. But, no documentation has surfaced.

Early Thursday morning under stormy skies, the team headed for the Blue Hole, about 60 miles from Belize City. The almost perfectly circular Blue Hole is more than 1,000 feet across with an unknown depth, but estimated around 400 feet deep.

Deep Sea diver and videographer Evan Kovacs prepares to document the bottom of the Blue Hole on High Definition Video.

The hole is the opening to what was a dry cave system during the Ice Age. When the ice melted and the sea level rose, the caves were flooded, creating what is now an attraction for thrill seeking divers. Today, the Blue Hole is famed for its sponges, barracuda, corals, angelfish—and a school of sharks often seen patrolling the hole’s edge.

Once the Deep Sea Detectives entered the water, they quickly left their recreational diving counterparts near the relative surface as they descended to three hundred feet below the surface where Kohler remained while serving his role as deep-water support. Finally, as the depth gage read 365 feet, the team of Chatterton and Kovak gently touched down on the silty bottom.

The team had twenty minutes to explore the bottom using a highly advanced rebreather apparatus. This apparatus efficiently recycles exhaled air that consists of a combination of oxygen and helium that the divers use to breathe. “It looked like vast sand dunes, it’s rolling and uneven,” explained Chatterton. Kovacs noticed some crabs and other creatures that were dead, but because of the lack of oxygen at that depth, were not decomposing and could be a number of years old.

The view from the bottom of the Blue Hole reveals a huge overhang giving the impression divers are on the inside of a huge bell.(Photos by Dive Portal Video Magazine)
A series of caverns and caves were left unexplored. Some believe these caves could provide a gateway beyond the edge of the reef.

After their brief 20-minute exploration, the team started their long slow ascent to the surface. While decompressing for nearly two and a half hours, they were able to enjoy much of the area that attracts so many divers to the Blue Hole.

The footage captured during their expedition will be part of a new DVD magazine titled Dive Portal Video Magazine where Chatterton and Kohler will portray a variety of challenging and extraordinary dives. The DVD should be available in April 2006.

Click here for several pages of underwater photos ....

For more information, follow these links:

Blue Hole Origin and Sea Level Change
Diving in Belize and Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye Barrier Reef
Map and info on Ambergris Caye Dive Sites

Commons Island Community History Visitor Center Goods & Services Search Messages

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