There is a very large deep hole in the ocean in Belize, and a team of submarines has just completed its exploration. They have a documentary to be released later this year, but before that, they have some new information to share about their adventure. The crew is part of Aquatica Submarines, a group whose main objective is to create submarines in order to make the exploration of the seas cheaper than in the past.
Aquatica Submarines manufactures submarines for trade, marine science, tourism, media and personal recreation. They also manufacture custom ships, if necessary. They also promote themselves by diving deep into the waves in missions like the one we are describing today.
UPDATE: More specifically, the company is: "Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the company strives to design, build and operate manned, rugged and versatile submarines, intended for scientific, commercial and leisure activities.
The photo of the Blue Hole above comes from the people of Aquatica. The photo of the blue hole below was captured by Vladimir Shveda and uploaded to the internet in August 2013.
The mission undertaken by Aquatica Submarines took place from November 27 to December 13, 2018. During this period, they performed more than 20 successful dives in this magnificent mysterious hole at the bottom of the ocean.
In particular, the team explored the region by working with Kongsberg Mesotech to produce a complete 3D sonar map of the entire Blue Hole. This has been done with sonar and underwater sonar technologies mounted on the surface of the submarine. "Once processed and collected, this data will be shared with the Government of Belize and the broader global scientific community as a legacy of the expedition."
Sonar devices used for this mission:
• Dual Axis Sonar (DAS) of Surface Support Vessel Above
• Multibeam submarine sonar (for mapping and navigation)
Findings at distances below the surface:
• 290 feet: layer of calcium carbonate with a large coral reef
• 300 feet: layer of hydrogen sulphide
• Below 300 feet: 100% anoxic (no oxygen)
• 407 feet: bottom or near bottom, evidence of stalactite or stalagmite formations now covered with sand
Erika Bergman, chief pilot of Aquatica, provided the readings chart presented here from one of the dives performed during the mission. In addition to interesting readings on the chemical composition and marine life – or lack thereof – the group discovered "traces" of creatures they could not identify. In an interview with CNN Travel, Bergman talked about various aspects of the Blue Hole mission, sonar readings and some mysterious tracks. "You can be 20 or 30 meters from a stalactite or a large piece of wall and see it down to the last detail," said Bergman, "better than the sight could provide." Bergman noted that they had found non-identifiable traces at the base of the hole, which apparently were not conch. They were "open to interpretation," Bergman said.
Below you will see a photo about 350 feet below the surface. This is what the crew called the "conch cemetery". It is a place where hundreds of dead conch were found, as well as evidence of attempted escape. They had probably fallen into the hole and once inside, found no oxygen in the water and choked.
The crew found traces of stalactite and stalagmite formations, but reported probable coverage by "centuries of sand". You will find below proofs in pieces. What you will not see is the massive layer of hydrogen sulphide (H2S). That's what Bergman called "diving into the acid". This layer retains the circulation of oxygen very effectively.
"We can see each conch with small tracks up the hill trying to escape, then a landmark where it slipped again after being asphyxiated in the anoxic environment," Bergman said. The speed at which new sand covers the conch shells in this area – as well as the number of shells still visible – seemed to indicate that a healthy conch population was living in the area. Per Bergman, these indices are "slightly morbid but describe something positive".
The crew expected to find the bottom of the hole about 420 feet. Going down the H2For the first time, the crew found the bottom much earlier than they thought. They had found a ridge line at the edge of the hole – a big one. "This ridge line had a depth of only 320 feet," said Bergman, "which means this 100-foot-tall berm is forming where the sand pours into the hole from the edges. .
Sir Richard Branson, Fabien Cousteau and Erika Bergman participated in a report from Discovery Channel during the trip at the end of last year (screen capture above). You can access this feature at Into The Blue Hole at Discovery right now. INE Entertainment will also release a documentary in the late spring of 2019. Until then, cross your fingers so that their discoveries reveal scary creatures or more tracks than they thought – we need more new sea beasts here to study as soon as possible!