The blue holes of the Bahamas are among the most mysterious regions on Earth. In addition to containing a sizeable portion of the world’s fresh drinking water, the holes are home to hundreds of unique marine ecosystems and provide unparalleled glimpses into the Earth’s history. According to an article by National Geographic, “They provide a window into the distant past, as the cave’s geological formations can be analyzed to reconstruct past climate and the unique water chemistry of the blue holes has preserved skeletal remains of Paleo-Indian as well as extinct and still living species.”
Goals of the Blue Holes Project
The Blue Holes Project began in 2008 as a collaboration between Expeditions Council grant recipient Kenny Broad, his team, and The National Museum of the Bahamas. According to the article, the project was intended as “a comprehensive exploration of the biological, geological and cultural characteristics of anchialine caves (marine groundwater caves called inland blue holes) and submarine caves (known as ocean blue holes) of the Bahamas.” In particular, Broad and his team hope the project will reveal more information about the region’s history, the rate of global sea rise, and the local impacts of global warming.
Great Risk Yields Great Rewards – The Dangers of Blue Hole Diving
Blue holes can form when rainwater permeates limestone to create inland aquifers that can reach depths of over 600 feet. As Broad’s team discovered firsthand, “These geologic reservoirs…contain a series of maze-like passageways going miles in many directions. These cave systems can transition from giant rooms to tiny holes that divers must remove all of their gear in order to squeeze through. To add to the challenge, currents reverse in the ocean caves, making timing of dives critical.” Nevertheless, Broad’s team has successfully gathered an impressive amount of data and breathtaking footage.
The Future of the Blue Holes
Unfortunately for the scientific community, many of the blue hole cave systems are threatened by Bahamas development projects. Broad’s team plans to hand over their data to the Bahamas Antiques, Monuments, and Museums Corporation for the purpose of creating a resource-management plan aimed at preserving the holes.
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