Those of us who have an appreciation of the outdoors and nature have often wondered if there are any truly pure locations left on the planet—places that have been untouched by mankind. Sadly, that list dwindles more and more with each passing year. You would think that the world’s deepest underwater sinkhole would be one of those places. Unfortunately, you would be mistaken.
The “Great Blue Hole” is an underwater sinkhole located in Belize. It became famous in the 70s when the legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau made it a household name. However, at the time, no one had ever explored the bottom of the sinkhole, sparking curiosity as to what might lie at the base, some 400 feet below the surface.
Last December, Jacques Cousteau’s grandson, Fabian, along with a team of submersible pilots and documentary filmmakers, decided to find out. What they discovered was both fascinating and depressing.
The bottom of the sinkhole is covered in stalactites, indicating that the hole probably started its life out as a cave. Unfortunately, the team also discovered traces of human pollution. They found a bunch of plastic bottles among the stalactites, proving that humans have a way of tainting even the furthest reaches of our planet. The team also managed to recover a GoPro camera at the bottom of the pit, complete with an intact SD card.
The team will use their findings to create a virtual, 3-D map of the Blue Hole. Hopefully, the Belize government will be able to use the data to aid in the conservation efforts of the site.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that such an unfortunate discovery has been made. The year before, a team of researchers was conducting studies of the deepest environment in our planet’s oceans—the Mariana Trench. At more than 36,000 feet deep, you’d think that it would be safe from the impact of human pollution. However, research found that of the creatures studied in this habitat, 100 percent of them had ingested plastic.
The findings are just further proof that we need to do much more to reduce single-use plastics. Otherwise, we might just run out of places that are worth exploring.