By Ariel Scotti / February 19, 2019

Inside the Depths of Belize’s Great Blue Hole

The hole is nearly 1,000 feet across and roughly 410 feet deep.

great blue hole
Stalactites in the Great Blue Hole (Stephen Frink/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

A team of scientists joined by billionaire Richard Branson has returned from a groundbreaking mission to the bottom of Belize‘s Great Blue Hole. 

The group embarked on their odyssey in December 2018 using two submarines into what is, essentially, the world’s largest sinkhole. It measures an incredible 984 feet across and roughly 410 feet deep, CNN reported. 

The expedition captured new images and footage inside the Blue Hole and created the first 3D map of its interior.

“We did our complete 360 sonar map and that map is now almost complete,” Erika Bergman, chief pilot, oceanographer and operations manager, told CNN. “It looks really cool, it’s this mesh-layered, sonar scan of the entire thousand-foot diameter hole.”

Bergman said one of the most exciting findings was never-before-seen stalactites — a type of mineral formations shaped like icicles — roughly 407 feet into the hole.

“That was pretty exciting, because they haven’t been mapped there before, they haven’t been discovered there before,” she said. “You lose all of that Caribbean sunlight and it just turns completely black, and it’s totally anoxic down there with absolutely no life.”

One of the positive takeaways from the expedition was the very minimal evidence that humans have effected this part of the ocean. 

“There were basically two or three little pieces of plastic — and other than that, it was really, really clear,” said Bergman, spotlighting the work of the Belize Audubon Society, which helps protect the hole.

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