Sea monsters, giant hammerheads, UFO sightings and ancient sacrificial sites – the Belize Blue Hole has attracted all sorts of mysteries. I can’t wait to voyage down into the largest underwater sinkhole in the world, over 300 metres across and 125 metres deep, and discover some of its secrets.
The Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage site, located along the second largest Barrier Reef system in the world. It has never been mapped and never been plotted. How exciting! You can join Fabien Cousteau and me on our submarine dive to the bottom of the Blue Hole on Discovery Live: Into The Blue Hole.
As a co-founder of Ocean Unite, I will be venturing into the dark depths of the Great Blue Hole to support their work and promote ocean awareness, the importance of strongly protecting at least 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030, and the critical role of science, research and exploration to understand how important the Ocean is to all of us.
This first-ever submersible dive to the very bottom of the Blue Hole will take place on December 2nd, at the start of the final month of the international year of the reef. It is a year in which the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that with two degrees C of warming – which we are now well on our way towards – we will lose all of the world’s corals by 2050.
I’m also incredibly excited that Virgin Voyages will be sponsoring this expedition. Virgin Voyages is one of our newest additions to the Virgin family and, as with all Virgin companies, we’re committed to embedding purpose at the core of everything we do. At Virgin Voyages, our purpose is focused on securing an epic sea change for all. We are determined to help ensure a healthy future for the ocean and to play a leading role in protecting and restoring our ocean.
Our lack of knowledge of the Blue Hole mirrors how little we know about our ocean. Even though it covers more than 70 per cent of the surface of the Earth and holds about 97 per cent of its water, only about five per cent has been properly explored. We actually know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean floor.
The ocean is the least understood, most biologically diverse, and most undervalued of all of Earth’s ecosystems. It produces every second breath we take, has absorbed over 90 per cent of the heat from our carbon emissions, and more than 25 per cent of carbon dioxide from those emissions, and its species are now beginning to feel the impacts of warming and acidification, as are we.
We are seeing more intense extreme storm events like the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and my home last year, species migrations as fish and whales move, and harm as corals bleach and die and shellfish shells thin and crack. The ocean is a vital partner in the fight to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change – if we look after it, it will help look after us.
I am excited to take part in this adventure in the beautiful waters of Belize. Together with Ocean Unite and Virgin Voyages, we call on the world’s governments to scale up ocean protection by striving to strongly protect at least 30 per cent of the Ocean by 2030. We also call specifically for Belize to secure protection of 30 per cent of its national waters, including establishing large-scale no-take marine protected areas – replenishment zones for nature and for people.
Follow Ocean Unite, Virgin Voyages, Discovery, Aquatica Submarines, Fabien Cousteau for updates in the build up to the Belize Blue Hole expedition and join us on Sunday December 2nd at 4pm to livestream the dive.