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Blue Hole & Lighthouse Caye

Lighthouse Reef Our Belizean adventures continued today with an hour-and-a-half boat ride further east, to Lighthouse Caye and the famous Blue Hole; a dive site popularized by marine explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Blue Hole and Lighthouse Caye are designated as World Heritage sites, both established and run by the Audubon Society of Belize. This conservation effort is largely due to the abundant population of Red-Footed Boobies and Frigate birds nesting on the island. The Blue Hole Stalactites We had the pleasure of sharing the turquoise water once again with Dr. Sylvia Earle as we descended into the Blue Hole. This dive site is just that, a circle of blue water measuring ~2.4 km (~1.5 miles) across at the surface, placed in the center of a submerged atoll, maxing out at 125 m (410 ft) in depth. …
Posted in Belize, deep search, Frigate Birds, Lighthouse Caye, marine conservation, oceanic society, Red Footed Booby, sylvia earle |

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Turneffe Atoll with Her Deepness

The changing of the guard went smoothly with the arrival of Sadie and the departure of John. Needless to say we were sorry to see John go. In the last 48 hours Kip and Sadie have been busy with interviews, capturing the hustle and bust of life in Belize City, and exploring the diverse critters of Turneffe Atoll. On Saturday afternoon Sylvia Earle, Kip and Sadie headed out to Turneffe Atoll, about 45min east of Belize City by boat. We were accompanied by a group of divers visiting the Oceanic Society and Blackbird Caye Resort; all masterminded by Birgit Winning, the Oceanic Society’s fearless leader, president and one of Turneffe’s biggest advocates. Through the Oceanic Society, guests are invited to spend their vacation learning about Turneffe Atoll and assisting with current research projects.…
Posted in Belize, deep search, marine conservation, oceanic society, sylvia earle, Turneffe Atoll |

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Hol Chan Habitats

Today was dedicated to the habitats of Hol Chan Marine Reserve. We began with an early dive among the mangrove forests that provide a nursery to most of the fish and invertebrate species that make up the barrier reef ecosystem. Snorkeling silently through a shallow mangrove creek, we spied snappers, angelfish, grunts, shrimps and a solitary batfish, whose pectoral fins act like tiny arms as he scoots along the nutrient-rich muddy bottom. Mangroves are extremely important to the health of tropical ecosystems, serving many critical functions. In addition to their role as a breeding ground for reef species, they provide shelter to juveniles of many species, protect shorelines from storm surge and erosion, and filter sediments and nutrients from the land that would otherwise harm the reef.…
Posted in Belize, coral, deep search, diving, dolphins, groupers, hol chan, Marine Protection, sylvia earle, turtles |

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Reef Splendors

A full and fascinating day of diving at three distinctly different sites here on the fringing barrier reef of Belize’s Ambergris Caye. Our first dive was to Esmeralda, a reef cut in the outer barrier reef that drops precipitously to over 30 meters (100 ft). We worked our way across a colorful, healthy reef and followed deep sand channels at 25 meters (80 ft), encountering curious nurse sharks and fearless black groupers. On our next dive we descended into the San Pedro Canyons, sharp fissures in the reef that drop away ever deeper—to 50 meters or more (165 ft). There, we spotted an inquisitive Green Moray eel and were surrounded by more nurse sharks and big groupers (at one point, we counted 12).…
Posted in ambergris caye, conservation, deep search, hol chan, Marine Protection, mission blue, MPA, sylvia earle |

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Bountiful, Beautiful Belize

Deep Search Expedition #3 is now underway. Team members Kip and John arrived this morning in Belize to begin filming and researching the natural habitats of this unique Central American nation, as well as to meet a number of Belizeans who are working hard to preserve its vital, fragile environment. Next week, Dr. Sylvia Earle arrives to speak at the launch of the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute’s new facility in the capital city of Belmopan. Later, Sylvia and the team will join our energetic conservation partner Birgit Winning of the Oceanic Society for a trip to Blackbird Cay, the Society’s newest PMPA (Private Marine Protected Area) project. Our mission over the next two weeks will be to highlight the efforts of the people, NGOs and government leaders who are working to preserve the rich, diverse ocean environment off Belize’s shores.…
Posted in Altun Ha, Belize, Crooked Tree, deep search, sylvia earle |

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Cuba: Jardines de la Reina Marine Nature Park

Jardines de la Reina, or the Queen’s Gardens, is the biggest Marine Nature Park in the Caribbean. It was named by Christopher Columbus for Queen Isabel of Spain and is located about 50 miles south of the mainland of Cuba; 80 miles north of Cayman Brace, in the middle of a 150 mile long mangrove and coral island system. This system forms what some people say is the third largest barrier reef in the world. Jardines de la Reina covers about 2,200 sq kilometers of ocean habitat, which means there is no commercial fishing in this area and the number of inhabitants is zero. One of the most amazing things about this park is that it sees no more than 400 divers a year!…
Posted in Cuba, deep search, Marine Protection, Shark, sylvia earle |

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Cuba: Havana – Colac Mar Cuba 2009

The National Oceanographic Committee (CON) from Cuba and Asociación Latinoamericana de Ciencias del Mar (ALICMAR), have jointly organized the Eighth Congress of Marine Sciences and XIII Congreso Latinoamericano de Ciencias del Mar, called ColacMar Cuba 2009. Members of The Deep Search Foundation Exploration team will be attending portions of this conference at the Conventions Palace in Havana. ColacMarCuba’2009 bring together scientists and other professionals related to science, technology and services coastal and marine educators, sociologists, economists, businessmen and policymakers, among others. Invitations have been extended to several well known people in the field, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and other relevant national and international groups in order to give greater clarity to the event. This is the front entrance to the University of Havana.…
Posted in Cuba, deep search, Marine Protection, sylvia earle |

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Blue Water, Big Sharks!!!

We found the Whale Sharks! Not ten, not 20, not 50…more than 150! After hearing rumors yesterday of several hundred sharks out in the Agua Azúl (“blue water”), we decided to make the long ride out to the deep water well north of the Yucatán Peninsula. That meant departing at 6:30 am to make the three-hour trek of almost 60 miles. Though nowhere near as rough as yesterday’s ride, we did some bouncing around the boat before our deckhand Abrám shouted from the flying bridge that there were “muchos tiburones ballenas” ahead. Our crew today included our Deep Search threesome (Kip, Shari, and John), plus photographer Brian Skerry and his assistant Hela Shamash. Between Kip and Brian, we had some serious photo/video horsepower on board.…
Posted in deep search, Holbox, sylvia earle, whale shark |

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We have met the Whale Sharks of Holbox!

We’ve made some impressive new friends today–about six of them, all giant, serene and strikingly beautiful. First, the backstory….Having arrived on Isla Holbox (pronounced “hol-bosh”) very late last night, we weren’t able to mobilize for our departure from this charming island village until 10:30 this morning. And this meant we had to fight a stiff tropical wind for two hours, followed by a wicked squall, before we reached the rich feeding grounds of the Whale Sharks, six miles off Cabo Catoche on the far northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. Our Deep Search Team includes board member Shari Sant Plummer and team members Kip Evans and John Racanelli. Our fearless leader Sylvia Earle is currently in the Florida Keys on another expedition.…
Posted in deep search, Holbox, sylvia earle, whale shark |

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