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New country souvenir, Belize, with Geocache of the Week: The Blue Hole – Half Moon Caye

Traditional Cache
GC2KFB8
by Sandra_und_Marc
Difficulty:
1.5
Terrain:
4.5
Location:
Belize
N 17° 12.332 W 087° 32.027

Today, we release a new country/regional souvenir for Belize. If you have found a geocache in Belize, you automatically receive the souvenir on your profile.

Image by Prying Pandora

Located on the Caribbean coast of Central America, Belize is a popular destination for tourists and a port of call for cruise ships. Geocachers that love sun, tropical breezes, history, and science will all have some extraordinary cache locations to visit in Belize.  

Xunantunich  Image by FOLD17 

Belize is home to 12 major Mayan temple ruins. One of them, the 2000 year old Sky Palace at Caracol, is still the tallest man-made structure in the country. Belize boasts around 240 miles (386 km) of Caribbean coastline on the mainland, along with around 450 islands called cayes (pronounced keys), and is home to the second largest barrier reef on Earth.

Image by PayMeCache

You will have to take a boat through those reefs to get to the extraordinary location of our Geocache of the Week,  The Blue Hole – Half Moon Caye (GC2KFB8).

The Great Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and ranks among the top 10 dive sites in the world. Its diameter is nearly 1000 ft (300 m) and it is over 400 feet deep (125 m). It was a secret known only to Belizean fishermen until Jacques Cousteau brought his research vessel to explore it in 1971 and then featured it in his ocean documentary series. The Cousteau connection continues—nearly 50 years later in 2019, Cousteau’s grandson created the first 3-D map of its interior.   

Image by Owo

Because the blue hole was created by natural geological processes, it is appropriate that our Geocache of the Week is an EarthCache. What happened to create this massive circular underwater tube?

You may be surprised to learn that this location wasn’t always under water. During the Ice Age, the sea level was a lot lower than it is today. Much of Earth’s water was stored as ice in glaciers and the polar ice caps.

During the Ice Age, this location was high and dry on land. The blue hole was part of a karst cave system above sea level. It was a cave on land for a very long time; long enough for huge stalactites and stalagmites to form.

Image by DiverDave32

At some point, likely during an earthquake, the ceiling of the cave collapsed, leaving it open to the sky. The formation of stalactites continued, and the change in angle indicates they continued to form after the ceiling angle changed from the collapse.  

Earth’s warmer temperatures after the end of the Ice Age melted most of the ice, and the sea level rose significantly. The entire cave is under water now, and the collapsed ceiling has become the Great Blue Hole. Most of the lucky geocachers who visit this EarthCache come here to dive or snorkel, and get to experience the extraordinary feature first hand.

Image by kinderarzt

The Great Blue Hole is only part of the experience of visiting this cache. The reef and tide pools are teeming with sea life, as well asHalf Moon Caye, with nesting frigate birds, red-footed boobies, sea turtles, hermit crabs, and iguanas.

L-R Top: Hawksbill turtle, Image by tigerkity; Red-footed booby, Image by Luninia; Caribbean hermit crab, Image by kinderarzt
L-R Bottom:   Frigate birds, Image by Free-bird; Donkey Dung sea cucumber, Image by raprbpja

We know geocachers love country and regional souvenirs and we do too! We are releasing at least one new country/regional souvenir per month starting in January 2019. These new souvenirs will be featured alongside Geocaches of the Week in each region and shared on the third Wednesday of each month. Check out all of the Geocaching souvenirs here.

Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world. Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.


Source: Geocaching

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