The billionaire Richard Branson recently accompanied explorers Fabien Cousteau and Erika Bergman in a dive into the Great Blue Hole, off the coast of Belize. Without much surprise they found plastic at the bottom.
The Great Blue Hole, off the Belize coastline, is a natural wonder which measures almost 300 metres in diameter and about 120 metres deep. This area is considered a world heritage site by UNESCO. The Great Blue Hole was formed at the end of the last ice age when sea levels were much lower. Sea levels which rapidly increased by about 90 metres submerged the cave with water. First explored by the explorer Jacques Cousteau in 1971, this natural wonder has recently been visited by Cousteau’s son accompanied by Richard Branson and Erika Bergman from the National Geographic. They visited this renowned scuba diving spot at the end of 2018.
Despite the amazing beauty of this natural environment, a rather disconcerting aspect of human society can still be found at it’s depths. Even this deep hole cannot escape plastic waste. Many plastic bottles have been found at the bottom of this formation highlighting the urgent need to “get rid of single use plastic,” as Richard Branson explains.
“The real monster is climate change – and plastic”
Richard Branson explained in an article on his blog that, “we traveled for about 10 minutes underwater until arriving at the Blue Hole. Then we started to descend the wall of the hole.” He continued saying that, “the first thing we saw was an enormous wall of gigantic stalactites, which were breathtakingly beautiful.” He added they also discovered a thick layer of hydrogen sulphide. Below this layer were dead creatures which had died after running out of oxygen. “As for the mythical monsters of the abyss? Well, the real monster is climate change – and plastic, ” stated Richard Branson.
The three divers were in Belize to promote the work of Ocean Unite which aims to make people aware of the importance of protecting at least 30% of our ocean by 2030.
Of course finding plastic at the bottom of the Great Blue Hole is unfortunately not a very unsurprising reality. Single use plastic has even been found in the deepest areas of the world’s oceans like the Mariana Trench which is 10, 898 metres deep.