Blue Hole Diving In The Bahamas | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Blue Hole Diving In The Bahamas | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

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Coming up next on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, Jonathan dives a really deep and spooky blue hole in the Bahamas! All of this today on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World! Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird, and
welcome to my world! ( ♪ music ) Everyone knows that the Bahamas
have beautiful beaches and lush
coral reefs. But they’re also world-renown for cave
diving. And in the Bahamas,
cave diving usually means blue holes. In particular, the island of
Andros has dozens of blue
holes, clearly visible from the
air. Walking through the forest here
on Andros, you can see that the
forest floor is the remains of an ancient sea bed. This
limestone was formed by coral
reefs millions of years ago. Rain, combining with carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere
creates mild carbonic
acid—otherwise known as acid rain—which slowly
dissolves limestone. Millions of years of rain
falling on this rock and then
draining in, have slowly
dissolved away the rock, creating these
odd little crevasses and holes.
And it has made the whole floor of the forest look like a
gigantic piece of Swiss cheese. Some of the holes have gotten
pretty big. I mean this one is
the size of a hot tub. But in a few places, the holes
are enormous, and full of
water. These are the Blue Holes. It’s easy to see how the blue
holes got their name. Andros is
covered in them. They look like circular ponds from the
air, and often lead into vast
underwater cave systems. I have teamed up with Small
Hope Bay Lodge and divemaster
Mike Hornby to explore The Guardian, one of the more
famous Blue Holes on Andros.
It’s a hike through the brush to get there. MIKE: We have about a quarter
of a mile we are going to have
to carry our gear in. JONATHAN: I gotta walk all the
way in here in my full scuba
gear? MIKE: Yep! JONATHAN: Oh man! MIKE: Well, we don’t have too
far to go. We’re just about
ready to round the corner and it’s going to open up into
a beautiful blue hole. OK,
Jonathan, here it is. This is the Guardian Blue Hole! JONATHAN: Wow! It doesn’t look
that blue. MIKE: If you look off in the
distance there and you see that
little bit of an archway, that is going to lead into one
cave system, and right down
here, this is the entrance to our other cave system. JONATHAN: So this is where
we’re going down? MIKE: Yes. So the Guardian blue
hole is the portal for the cave
systems that lie underneath. So, I head back to get my
camera. This is a lot less convenient
than boat diving. It takes several trips to get
my camera, plus all the other
gear, to the water. What I want to know is who was
the first guy to discover this
muddy hole and say “Hey, this would be a good place to
go for a dive!” I mean, look at
it. Back at the truck, Mike and I
start suiting up. We will walk
in our gear to the water. Mike, as a cave diving
instructor, will be my guide to
exploring the blue hole. Mike wears some specific gear for
cave diving, including
redundant dive computers, an
extra regulator and he will even be
carrying a spare scuba tank. So I’m not quite as technical
as Mike, but I do have some
specialized gear for cave
diving. I have a scuba tank, it’s a
normal scuba tank, but it has
an H valve on it. It has two separate independent first
stages. So I’ve got my normal
regulator that I always use on the first one and a
completely separate, redundant
backup regulator on the other
one. So that way I can turn one off,
turn the other one on, and if I
have a problem with either one of my regulators, I have a
completely secondary backup.
For lighting, my lights on my camera, my huge video
lights, those are my primary
lights. But I have a flashlight in my pocket and a chemical
light stick which you break and
it glows and you have 12 hours of light. It has no batteries
and that’s probably more lights
than I’m going to need. With our gear all assembled and
ready, we hike into the brush.
And man is it hot! Nothing like a long walk in the hot
Bahamian sun wearing full scuba
gear and a wetsuit to burn off a few calories! MIKE: This water is going to
feel extremely good after that
warm walk through here. JONATHAN: Oh yeah, I’m looking
forward to that! Finally it’s time to jump into
the water and explore the
Guardian. JONATHAN: Oh that feels so good! Well, it’s time to go check it
out! As I sink down into the
yellowish-green water, I can
hardly see because it’s so
murky. I’m following Mike’s pink fins.
He specifically uses the
brightest pink he can find so
the people following behind can see
him in limited visibility. Cameraman Tim is right behind
me, bringing up the rear as we
sink down into a dark spooky hole in the ground. As we descend, we pass through
layers of what looks like smoke
in the water. Mike points out these clouds of suspended
sediments to me as we keep
sinking. The blue holes leads into a
huge cave system and it’s a lot
deeper than you might imagine. Periodically Mike turns to make
sure we are still here, and his
flashlight illuminates a permanent guide line that
previous divers have installed.
This line guides the way out in case we get disoriented. The walls on each side of us go
straight down. We are sinking
into a deep crack. As we get deeper, the walls get
closer together, but the water
gets clearer. We have passed into seawater from the
freshwater above. I can taste
the salt on my lips. If we could go far enough, eventually we
could reach the ocean. Mike points to ancient
fossilized seashells imbedded
into the limestone. Here’s a
conch shell. Our bubbles are hitting rock
overhangs and knocking off
sediment which is raining down around us, reducing the
visibility. I continue to follow Mike,
until finally at a hundred and
fifty feet deep; we reach some stalactites in a formation
called candle wax. These were
formed by dripping water during the last ice age when sea
levels were much lower and this
part of the cave was dry. Down below me, it’s more than
500 feet deep in this cave. I
don’t think we’ll be going down there! We turn around and start
heading back, with Mike
continuing to point out fossils. Following our guideline back
into the shallower, murky
water, Tim is right behind me. And Mike, with his spare scuba
tank slung under his arm, is
right ahead. Periodically, markers on the
line point the way out. These
can be used in the event of a light failure to feel your
way to the surface. At last we can see the dim glow
of daylight from above as we
ascend towards the sun. Back in the shallows of the
blue hole, Mike shows me around. The bottom looks like its sand,
but it’s actually a deep layer
of silt. While Tim hovers high above the
bottom to keep from kicking up
the silt, I perform a little experiment. Down on the bottom, I plunge my
arm into the silt up to my
shoulder and it’s even deeper than that. This is a layer of
decomposing leaves and other
organic stuff. The decomposition creates hydrogen sulfide, a
deadly gas that smells like
rotting eggs. The water is
saturated with hydrogen sulfide and I can
smell it in the water that
seeps around the edge of my mask. Wow. That dive can only be
described as spooky. The water
is kind of colored like mustard, and you can’t really see where
you are going, and it’s all
swirly and if I wasn’t following Mike I would have been totally
lost. That dive was very spooky
but really interesting. The next day I’m out on the
ocean, suiting up for another
dive. Mike has something he wants me to see. After the last
dive, I can’t imagine what
crazy thing he is thinking now! I roll into the water and
follow Mike and his trademark
pink fins down to the reef. Then we keep going down into a
cavern below the reef. At the bottom of the cavern,
Mike points to a hole and
motions for me to go in ahead of him. Once again, it’s pretty
spooky, but exciting at the
same time. So in I go, with Tim and Mike right behind me. Inside, it opens up into a big
cave. We’re not deep enough for
stalactites though. As we come around a corner, I
look straight up to see light
coming in from above through a huge crack in the rock. We make our way right up the
fissure into the blue above. I’m in an ocean blue hole,
formed just like an inland blue
hole 20,000 years ago during an ice age, when the ocean
levels were much lower. Once
the ocean levels rose, this blue hole ended up underwater. But this blue hole connects
through a vast labyrinth of
caves to the inland blue holes. And as we emerge into the open
ocean, something looks weird. When the tide goes out, all the
water from inside the caves
gets sucked out into the ocean, bringing with it silt
and hydrogen sulfide from the
inland blue holes! It forms clouds near the bottom, with a
distinct line between the clear
ocean water above, and the silty hydrogen sulfide layer
below. What you are seeing here
are the decomposing remains of forest vegetation which have
passed entirely through the
caves and out into the ocean! Everywhere I find what look
like strands of mucus floating
in the water. It’s most likely mucus secreted by the coral in
response to the caustic
hydrogen sulfide. It’s stuck on everything,
including this gorgonian, which
has closed all its polyps to protect itself from the
hydrogen sulfide. As the tide
carries the toxic water away, the corals will go back to
normal. Finally, we head back to the
boat. Tim and Mike hang on to
the anchor line to do a short safety stop before we surface. My exploration of the Guardian
blue hole on Andros was both
fascinating and a little spooky. But I have to admit I’m
intrigued. There are quite a
few more blue holes on Andros for me to explore, so I’ll be
back! ( ♪ music )

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