In case you aren’t already well versed in the realm of deep blue holes, aka oceanic sinkholes, there’s a massive one near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea scientists recently measured to be 987 feet deep. Dubbed the “Dragon Hole,” it’s 300 feet deeper than Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, leading researchers to believe it could be the deepest blue hole on the planet.
A blue hole is a large marine cavern or sinkhole, which is open to the surface and has developed in a bank or island composed of a carbonate bedrock (limestone or coral reef).
Because a hole of that depth is far too pressurized for a diver to fully explore, the Sansha Ship Course Research Institute for Coral Protection used a robot with a depth sensor to get an accurate measurement. In addition to calculating depth, researchers were able to identify 20 fish species located mainly in the upper 300 feet of the hole since little to no oxygen exists deeper than 330 feet.
Sure, they’re mesmerizing to look at, but what’s the point of deep blue holes, scientifically speaking? According to Huffington Post, Ocean University of China Professor Yang Zuosheng explained their significance to CCTV, saying:
“Research into a blue hole can provide detailed records of how the climate or water level changes over tens of thousands of years. Once we have that data, we can deduct the pattern of evolution for climate change in the South China Sea, including its ecosystem, hydrological system, and its landform.”
Officially named the Sansha Yongle Blue Hole, local administrators say they intend to “protect the natural legacy left by the Earth,” Sansha City vice mayor Xu Zhifei told China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua.
While the Dragon Hole is now the world's deepest "blue hole," it's not the world's deepest sinkhole. That distinction belongs to the Pozzo del Merro in Italy, the deepest underwater vertical cave in the world with a depth of 1,286 feet.
Though the Dragon Hole’s depth will have to be independently verified if it wants to solidify its title as deepest blue hole in the world, considering there are likely many others out there that have yet to be identified. With so much ocean yet to explore, why not pitch in yourself? According to CNN, you can buy your own underwater drone for less than $1,000 dollars and explore the seas to your heart’s content—all from the comfort of your living room. How’s that for a modern-day Captain Ahab?
Sources: GOOD, YouTube, mnn