Friday, January 22, 2010
Trip to the Blue Hole
This week we set off in the Miss Callie, the marine station’s 22 ft motor boat to the Blue Hole for a snorkeling expedition. Although being a bright sunny calm day, we met with some big swells when we got out in the open water. As we got closer to the reef surrounding the Blue Hole the waves calmed down and we skimmed across bright turquoise blue waters. There we were able to find a good snorkeling spot. If you don’t know about the Blue Hole, I’ll tell you a bit. The book says it is 1000 ft wide and 412 feet deep. This sink hole is believed to be the world’s largest blue hole. It is full of geological wonders and fascinating marine life such as giant stalactites. These structures formed in a dry cavern above sea level during glacial periods thousands of years ago. The sea level rose and the cave top collapsed creating this deep hole.
We had our snorkel trip around the edge of it. When we jumped off the boat all you could see was a deep dark blue abyss, as we swam closer to the reef, the rocky sandy bottom quickly rose up from the depths into a beautiful shallow coral reef filled with lots of colorful fish and interesting marine life. There were many kinds of parrotfish, with their strong beak like bills, munching algae off the corals and making sand. Yes the majority of beautiful white sand we enjoy around here is actually pooped out by the parrotfish. To give you an idea of their showy colors, they are given names like rainbow, stop light and red fin. Some of the other eye catchers are the purple and orange damselfish and the electric blue chromos. On the way back to the boat over that big hole we saw a big school of largish sized yellow tailed snapper, chubs, needle nosed ballyhoos and a couple of horse eyed jacks.
The second part of the trip, we motored over to Half Moon Caye Natural Monument also located in Light House Reef. The Caye is really beautiful. There is the guano rich (not too stinky) Ziricote tree forest which houses a nesting colony of Magnificent Frigate’s and the Red footed Bobbies. Did you know that guano is bird poop? The other two ends have sandy beach sites for nesting sea turtles and super swimming spots. You can also camp on the island, but you had better bring all the food and water you need, because there are no food stores and the nearest one is fifty miles by boat. You can find out more about the Blue Hole, Half Moon Key and other Belize Audubon sites by going to wwwbelizeaudobon.org