Aquatica Submarines Expedition to Belize Blue Hole Declared a Success
Between 27 November - 13 December 2018, Vancouver-based Aquatica Submarines and its partners completed the world's first expedition to explore and map the depths of Belize's Blue Hole.
Completing 22 dives in two weeks, the groundbreaking expedition has been declared a great success. Working from the Research Vessel Brooks McCall, the team – which included Sir Richard Branson, Fabien Cousteau and Aquatica’s Chief Pilot, Erika Bergman – operated its Stingray 500 submersible alongside the Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration’s (R.I.D.E.) Idabel Submarine. A two-hour live broadcast from the Blue Hole was featured on The Discovery Channel, and a documentary featuring the expedition is set to be released in late spring 2019 by INE Entertainment.
'It was a real honour to be invited along on the first ever submersible dive to the very bottom of the Blue Hole,' wrote Sir Richard on his blog. 'We were in Belize to support the work of Ocean Unite to promote ocean awareness and the importance of strongly protecting at least 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030,' he said. 'The ocean is so critical to all of us and we want to do all we can to protect it.'
Between the two vehicles, a total of 35 people were able to catch a glimpse of the stalactite walls and 'eerie anoxic bottom' of the Blue Hole, while capturing extensive imagery and video footage of the surrounding environment.
High-resolution sonar scans were also collected using equipment from expedition partner Kongsberg during the Blue Hole dives will be processed into a full 360° virtual map of the reef. The map will be enhanced with the imagery and other environmental information collected by the submersibles. The results will be shared with the Government of Belize and the larger global scientific community.
'The Expedition’s successes really mean that we were able to show the magic of the Blue Hole to the world and reinforce the messages of all the Expedition members that we must continue to work diligently to conserve our world’s oceans for future generations,' said Harvey Flemming, President of Aquatica Submarines.