With so many hotly debated points circulating the media, it’s no shock that most of the smaller voices – even these advocating for the most important of points – are typically drowned out by those that have simply a bit extra pull. A thousand individuals crying out is sufficient to get the world speaking, however all it takes is one main voice to actually make them pay attention.
When billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson launched into a daring undersea exploration within the identify of marine conservation, tens of millions of individuals tuned in for a probability to witness one thing really exceptional. However as Branson journeyed deeper into the abyss, he found a surprising fact that stands to devastate all of mankind…
Situated some 40 miles off the coast of Belize Metropolis, the Nice Blue Gap has marveled those that’ve skirted its crystal-blue waters for during the last half-century. At over 1,000 ft throughout, this large cavern was lengthy thought-about the most important of its sort.
The opening is on the middle of the Lighthouse Reef, one of many many small atolls that make up the world’s second-largest coral reef system, the Belize Barrier Reef.
As such, the Nice Blue Gap is protected as a World Heritage Website underneath the United Nations Instructional, Scientific and Cultural Group (UNESCO).
Chabil Mar Villas
However though the opening itself has been recognized to researchers because the mid 20th century, it wasn’t till a famed marine explorer lastly visited the location that anybody absolutely appreciated it.
When Jacques Cousteau visited the location in 1971, the world lastly started to take discover of its magnificence. Utilizing the cellular lab aboard his ship Calypso, Cousteau was the primary to measure the depth of the opening — a exceptional 407 ft.
Nationwide Geographic Society
A 1991 expedition led by the Cambrian Basis sought to verify Cousteau’s unique measurement, and to their shock, they discovered that the French adventurer was almost spot on.
Although the title of the world’s largest marine sinkhole now belongs to China’s Dragon Gap, the Nice Blue Gap continues to be large enough to suit two Boeing 724 airplanes with room to spare.
Michael Wass / Flickr
Following Cousteau’s exploration, the location has since develop into a well-liked scuba spot amongst skilled divers, with some citing it as probably the greatest on the planet.
Palau Dive Adventures
However regardless of all the eye that the Nice Blue Gap has gained through the years, little was really recognized concerning the large cavern and what it contained… till now.
Fueled by his adventurous spirit and fervent help for marine conservation, English entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson sought to unveil the mysteries of the Nice Blue Gap as soon as and for all.
But even with years of adventures and discoveries to his credit score, Branson wanted the assistance of 1 essential particular person to really make the expedition worthwhile.
That’s proper: he enlisted the assistance of Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of the exact same man that had put the Nice Blue Gap on the map virtually 50 years earlier. Collectively, the 2 explorers hoped to select up proper the place Jacques had left off.
Extra particularly, the lads needed to make use of state-of-the-art 3D imaging know-how to create a complete map of the inside of the sinkhole. This would offer never-before-seen perception.
They have been additionally trying to check the water high quality and oxygen ranges inside the Nice Blue Gap to get a sense of what sort of aquatic life might survive there.
Moreover, Branson and Cousteau have been adamant about exploring what they believed to be an oxygen-depleted space on the base of the opening. Why the curiosity on this so-called lifeless zone?
Properly, if their hunch was right, this discovery might maintain clues to the autumn of the Mayan civilization between 800 and 1,000 AD! Yeah, who noticed that one coming?
“We’ve heard that in the Blue Hole there is an anoxic area [or dead zone] near the bottom,” stated one of many expedition’s crew members. “This is really interesting because things don’t degrade in anoxic areas so we could find preserved life.”
However whilst visions of this huge undersea journey danced of their heads, the lads nonetheless had one obvious situation to beat earlier than they might even take into consideration venturing under the floor: how would they do it?
Being that the majority people can’t dive greater than 130 ft with out being crushed by water strain, scuba diving was utterly out of the query. They wanted to assume outdoors the field.
Dive Coaching Journal
Fortunately, they discovered captain Erika Bergman. Aboard her high-tech STINGRAY 500, the workforce would be capable of dive at depths of as much as 500 ft whereas concurrently capturing HD recordings of your complete journey.
Explanation for a Sort
And so, on December 2nd, Branson, Cousteau, and Bergman – together with a workforce of cinematographers from the Discovery Channel – made the journey to Lighthouse Reef to start their exploration.
With their stay stream being broadcast to viewers everywhere in the world, the three adventurers submerged within the waters of the Nice Blue Gap.
Although the floor of the huge cavern appeared virtually clear blue from above, the depths under have been something however. Darkness met the workforce head on as they dove deeper and deeper into the opening, unaware of what treasures – or horrors – awaited them at its backside.
Alongside the best way, a number of fish stored tempo alongside the workforce, starting from widespread ocean dwellers to the likes of the unique Midnight Parrotfish.
However for each unassuming fin or tail that flitted by, they couldn’t assist however hold their eyes peeled for the hammerhead and aggressive bull sharks that have been recognized to prowl the world.
When the vessel arrived on the flooring of the cavern the staff instantly went to work mapping the size of the opening. After solely a jiffy of scanning, nevertheless, Branson and the others observed a unusual opening…
Curious, the group approached the opening, and inside they discovered the actual treasure of the exploration: stalactites! This discovery would’ve meant little if stumbled upon in a typical cave system, however the truth that the discover was made at such a depth underwater was unprecedented.
Discovery / Twitter
Based on checks run on the rock formations, these stalactites have been an astonishing 150,000 years previous. Often, stalactites solely type in dry caves!
That signifies that the Nice Blue Gap was as soon as a part of a bigger cave system that shaped on dry land. As exceptional as this was, although, this discovery truly factors to a a lot bigger concern.
With the Nice Blue Gap now utterly submerged beneath a whole lot of ft of water, it’s a clear indication that the gradual warming of the earth is instantly liable for rising sea ranges. As international warming continues to have an effect on our planet, might this be a signal of issues to return?
Richard Branson and his workforce appear to assume so, and he’s pledged to assist within the effort to guard at the very least 30% of world oceans by the yr 2030. With sea life masking over two-thirds of the Earth’s floor, now appears nearly as good a time as ever to make it possible for it stays that approach.
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