Wonder

Dean’s Blue Hole

Dean's Blue Hole
Dean’s Blue Hole. / SNSF Scientific Image Competition, Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

There exists a broad term "blue hole" describing any deep, water filled, vertical caves. The 202 – 203 m deep Dean’s Blue Hole in Bahamas, Long Island until recent times was the deepest sinkhole in the world’s oceans and seas.

4.9 out of 10 stars 48.6%

GPS coordinates
23.1063 N 75.0087 W
Location, address
North America, Caribbean, Bahamas, Long Island, in the bight at the northern bank of island 4.5 km west from Clarence Town
Alternate names
Deans Blue Hole
Depth
202 – 203 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Blue hole in the sea

Dean’s Blue Hole is named after the family name of local landowners. It is located in a small bay, divided from the open sea with a small peninsula.

Freediving teams at Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas
Freediving teams at Dean’s Blue Hole / Wikimedia Commons, user Mjbt, CC-BY-SA-3.0

At the very tip of this small bay in the depth of 6 m starts entrance into this vertical cave. The entrance is 25 x 30 meters wide. Here starts the sinkhole – its walls are not just vertical but overhanging. There can be observed a constant "sandfall" – small rivulets of sand are streaming down into the hole.

Further down the blue hole becomes larger and larger, until the diameter reaches approximately 100 m. It is one of the largest known underwater cave rooms in the world.

Sea water here is lucid and unusually calm – thus the visibility reaches up to 15 – 30 m depth.

Bottom of the cave is rather even. Walls though are not even, there are seen numerous unexplored side passages. Exploration of these passages is very complex due to the great depth.

During the tides enormous volume of water is discharging through the mouth of the cave – it means that at least some of these cave connections are deep and connected to the sea.

Dean’s Blue Hole sometimes erroneously is presented as the deepest water-filled sinkhole in the world. Several water-filled sinkholes though are deeper. For example, Pozzo Merro in Italy is 392 m deep and the giant El Zacatón sinkhole in Mexico is 339 m deep. In July 2016 there was reported also deeper undersea sinkhole – Dragon Hole in South China Sea.

Blue holes

Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas
Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas / Ton Engwirda, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 Netherlands

There is some huddle regarding the terms "sinkhole" and "blue hole". Some say that blue holes are not exactly sinkholes but rather vertical caves. The fact is that sinkholes ARE a kind of vertical caves – sinkholes are holes or natural depressions caused by karst processes.

"Blue hole" is a term applied to some of those sinkholes which are filled with water – irrespective of their mechanism of formation. It seems that the decisive factor in the use of this term is the beautiful deep blue color of water in these formations.

This color is created by the high transparency of water and bright white carbonate sand. Blue light is the most enduring part of the spectrum: where other parts of the spectrum – red, yellow, and finally the green – are absorbed during their path through the water, blue light manages to reach the white sand and return back after the refraction.

Bahamas were the first where this term has been applied to diverse beautiful sinkholes filled with seawater. Blue holes here (as elsewhere in the world) formed in times when the sea level was lower than now. Sometimes these holes were formed by deeper groundwater gradually dissolving the limestone until the ceiling of these voids collapsed. Sometimes though they were formed by the rainwater seeping into limestone through a crevice and gradually making it wider.

Later the sea level raised and these vertical holes were filled with lucid, calm water.

Most likely Dean’s Blue Hole formed in a similar way some 15,000 years ago, though it is not clear why this sinkhole is that deep-sea level in the Bahamas back then was a bit more than 100 meters below the present sea level.

World record site
William Trubridge in Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas
William Trubridge in Dean’s Blue Hole / Igor Liberti, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Here, in this beautiful geological formation is meeting the might and beauty of nature and hardiness of people.

Full depth of this sinkhole was first reached by Jim King in 1992.

Over the last decade this blue hole in Bahamas though has become a scene of world-class free-diving. Since 2007 here is established a freediving school "Vertical Blue" (operates from November to May), which organizes also yearly world competition in April.

This deep sinkhole is perfect for such sports – it is located right next to the bank, in calm water.

Cave has seen many incredible world records in diverse disciplines of free-diving by the best freedivers of the world, including Natalia Molchanova, Herbert Nitsch, William Trubridge.

One such discipline, for example, is – Constant Weight Apnea Without Fins (diving possibly deep and returning in one breath without any appliances and without holding at the rope). How deep one can go in such a way? 10 meters? 15 meters? No! On December 13, 2010, William Trubridge dived 100 meters deep (and then 100 meters back) in such a way, it took 4 minutes 10 seconds.

Try at least to run 100 meters forth and 100 meters back without breathing – even that is a serious challenge!

References
  1. Vertical Blue. The official Website. Accessed on July 6, 2011
  2. Beautiful base jump imitation in Deans Blue Hole by Guillaume Néry. The Huffington Post. Accessed on July 17, 2010
Dean’s Blue Hole is included in the following lists and articles:

WorldYellow Linked articles

Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas

Wonders of the Bahamas

An interested visitor of the Bahamas will be rewarded with many unique monuments of nature and also several exciting cultural attractions. Islands are rich with legends including stories about unusual creatures looming in the wild forest and swamps.

Great Blue Hole, Belize

Sinkholes

This category includes outstanding sinkholes – large natural depressions or holes, which for most the part represent collapsed caves.

Swifts in Sótano de las Golondrinas, Mexico

Largest and most impressive sinkholes of the world

A unique list of some of the world’s most impressive natural landmarks – giant sinkholes.

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