Expedition Blue Hole Belize 2018
This multimillion dollar expedition took 2 deep sea submersibles to the bottom of the Great Blue Hole in Belize to perform scientific research. OutsideInnovation personnel provided deep sea submersible piloting and engineering services among numerous other support tasks. The expedition was lead by Aquatica Submarines and was the first time since the 1970’s (with Jacques Cousteau and the Calypso) that the Blue Hole had been explored on this scale. The primary sponsors for the project were Sir Richard Branson, Fabien Cousteau, and the Discovery Channel.
The primary goal of Expedition Blue Hole Belize 2018 was to use deep sea submersibles to produce the most accurate 3D map of the Great Blue Hole ever created. The Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration was a strategic partner for Aquatica Submarines and they worked together using the most advanced sonar technology currently available from Kongsberg to produce the new 3D map. While doing so, over 30 hours 4K video were shot and numerous scientists were taken to areas of interest throughout the Blue Hole. The Discovery Channel ran a 2 hour special on the expedition and it was sponsored by Sir Richard Branson and Fabien Cousteau.
head engineer, pilot…and cook?
RIDE’s primary purpose in the expedition was to take sponsors, filmmakers, and scientists on exploratory dives of the Blue Hole while the Aquatica submersible focused on the sonar tasks. Each pilot logged over 20 hours exploring the Blue Hole and the data is still being analyzed. In addition to piloting responsibilities, Thomas Trudel also provided technical support for the sonar activities, commercial diving tasks, and mission planning. Expeditions of this scale are a team effort and when you are 40 miles offshore everyone has to pitch in where they might not normally…Thomas even found time to shop for vegetables and cook dessert some days!
The Expedition successfully mapped the Great Blue Hole and the data is currently being post processed to produce the final image. The images above are the initial point cloud scans of the hole and provide the base for additional detail to be added to. CTD casks, shark tagging studies, and numerous hours of visual observation were also performed. These data have drastically increased the amount of knowledge on this national treasure of Belize. The Belize Audubon Society and National Museum will ultimately receive a 3D model of the hole for display at their respective headquarters.