Blue holes are the dream of divers. They are a way to get deep easily and it is theoretically simple to dive in blue holes because it is “just a hole”: you can either get up or down. There are no narrow ways. However, the Great Blue Hole of Belize is still known to be a dangerous diving spot. Let’s unravel the mysteries around this place once and for all. So, why is the Great Blue Hole so dangerous?
The Great Blue Hole of Belize is dangerous for three reasons: the inexperienced divers, water clarity, and the presence of sharks. Those three elements can alter the mindset of the divers and push them to make bad decisions while scuba diving.
There are three major reasons why the Great Blue Hole is so dangerous:
The inexperience of the diver
The presence of sharks
Why is it dangerous to dive in Great Blue Hole if you are an inexperienced diver?
Being an inexperienced diver is an issue in every blue hole. Even if blue holes are just, as their name suggests, holes, they are still not the best spots to start diving. Indeed, blue holes are deep. The problem caused by this fact is that inexperienced divers tend to push too deep. Ego is your enemy in that case: you want to limit yourself. As a beginner, you do not want to go deeper than 20 meters. As a hardened diver, you can push up to 35 meters. Finally, as a certified diver, you can get up to 40 meters.
20 meters (67 feet)
35 meters (115 feet)
40 meters (131 feet)
Table summarizing how deep you can dive regarding of your level
The issue is the folowing: the Great Blue Hole is around 125 meters deep. Even professional divers can’t reach the bottom of this blue hole, meaning that you should not even imagine the possibility of reaching the bottom of the Great Blue Hole.
It is really important to mention that the risks divers encounter in the Great Blue Hole of Belize are almost the same as the ones they encounter in other diving spots. Those risks are all related to the mindset of the diver: it is about making bad decisions such as going too deep, not checking equipment beforehand, panicking. Those are mistakes you avoid making thanks to the experience.
So, yes, you need to get experience at one point or another, but this blue hole is not the one you should dive for your first time. You should also always dive with experienced divers and make sure to follow all the security guidelines. This is what the following video is about. It really gets into the details of security when diving into a blue hole. And you should definitely watch it if you plan to dive soon.
How in the world is crystal-clear water an issue? Well, this is exactly what we are going to discuss now. If you watched the full 40-minutes documentary I just put over this section, you may have heard that the presenter mentions how water clarity is an issue.
How clear is the water in this blue hole?
The water inside the Great Blue Hole is crystal-clear, meaning that it is harder to estimate distances. Crystal-clear water can easily become a trap. Indeed, if the water is clear, you will have trouble knowing how deep you are. Normally, you can feel how deep you are thanks to the luminosity around you. But once again, if the water is clear, the distances shorten in your mind.
Check the following video from Science Insider to have a look at how clear the water is in the blue hole. You will also learn a ton of interesting things about the Great Blue Hole and about the scientists’ works.
The effects of water pressure and crystal-clear water in blue holes
But crystal-clear water is also what causes the death of a lot of divers in the Blue Hole of Dahab.
Basically, in this blue hole, you can see an arch under you when you reach around 40 meters deep. Bright light emerges from the other side of this underwater arch. Instantly, your brain gets tricked by the distance between you and the arch. The water is also very clear in the Blue Hole of Dahab, and you feel like you can reach the arch in flapping fins. But this is not the case! In fact, the arch is 30 meters away from you!
The issue is that, at this depth, you can experience the effects of the water pressure around you. You could even experience nitrogen narcosis, one of the main reasons why divers die. The effects of water pressure alter your decision-making process. If you start panicking, you could make the wrong decision and try to reach the arch instead of looking up and realizing how deep you are.
Thankfully, there is no such rock formation as the arch in the Great Blue Hole of Belize. However, you can get tricked the same way! So you should be careful about distances. Make sure to always stay under your limits. Only push your limits if you are surrounded by extremely experienced divers who are ready to help you at any point of the dive.
This is why water clarity is dangerous while scuba diving. Estimating distances becomes harder. And the effects of the water pressure also alter your estimations of distances, making the overall process harder.
Are there sharks in the Great Blue Hole?
Back in 2018, a team of scientists wanted to create a 3D map of the Great Blue Hole of Belize using a little submarine. During their descent to the bottom of the Great Blue Hole, they found a lot of different species. But did they find sharks? This is what we are going to discuss now. Are there sharks in the Great Blue Hole?
There are three species of sharks in the Great Blue Hole:
Caribbean reef sharks
Of course, it is really important to keep in mind that sharks very rarely attack humans. I classified the reasons why the Great Blue Hole is dangerous from the most to the least dangerous one.
Even if you encounter a shark, the chances that it attacks you are low. But still, the risk is present, as you can see in the following video!
We cannot really say that this video is a shark attack, there is definitely clickbait behind the title of the video. It is more a shark encounter. However, if the divers did not stay calm, things could have gone wrong. Even if the number of shark attacks around the world is fairly low, it is still something to consider.
And if you are absolutely scared of sharks, it would be a shame to encounter one because you could have trouble remaining peaceful. It could also spoil your experience, and even push you to make mistakes, which is the first risk while scuba diving.
Anyway, I hope that this article was helpful and that you now know more about the risks behind scuba diving in the Great Blue Hole and in blue holes in general. Once again, I would love it if you could watch the documentary of the Blue Hole of Dahab because I feel like it is the best way to prevent more scuba diving accidents.
If you want to learn more about other destinations in the world, you should definitely read other articles, like the one about living in Bali, or the one about the pollution of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Sadly, there is not any other article related to scuba diving for now, but there could be more in the future! Let me know in the comment section below which articles about scuba diving you want me to write.