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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

7 Wonders of the Underwater World

This week we are sharing seven amazing wonders of our underwater world!

Deep Sea Vents — An entirely new way of surviving

Most creatures of the earth survive by gaining energy from the sun through plant’s process of photosynthesis. Plants transform the sun’s energy into organic material that animals eat. Carnivores get the energy second hand, but all energy ultimately comes from the sun… or so we thought.

Deep in the ocean scientists have discovered another source of energy that provides nutrients to an otherworldly eco system. Deep Sea vents — similar to the geysers we are familiar with on land — are rich in dissolved minerals and bacteria. This bacteria is able to consume and produce organic material through the utilization of certain sulfur compounds in a process called chemosynthesis. The bacteria becomes a food source for some animals, such as clams and limpets, and then these animals are consumed by carnivores such as octopuses. The creatures that live in these deep areas have to withstand the intense pressure of the deep sea, and could not survive in conditions other than at the vents. Wow!

Undersea Lakes

There are lakes that exist within the sea. The lakes consist of denser water with a much higher saline content. The shores of these lakes are populated with many different sea creatures, but only certain creatures can live below the surface of the undersea lake. When deep-sea explorers discovered the lake, their submarine bounced on the surface and caused ripples, and the lake reflected the lights of the submarine. Incredible!

The Great Belize Barrier Reef

The Great Belize Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the western hemisphere, and the second largest in the world. 90% of the reef has not been researched, which leads to an estimate that only 10% of the species that live on the reef have been discovered. The Belize Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world, and the reef makes Belize a popular vacation destination. Tourists can explore the abundant splendor of the reef in a variety of ways: including Sea TREK in Belize at Discovery Expeditions. Sea TREK requires no certification or even swimming ability. If you can walk and breathe, you can Sea TREK. This allows for anyone, ages 8 and up, to experience the beauty and diversity that is The Great Belize Barrier Reef. Fantastic!

The Sand Falls Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Jacques Cousteau discovered the sand falls in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico around 40 years ago. The sand falls are exactly what they sound like, falls of sand — similar to waterfalls. They cascade from a slope into a deep submarine canyon. The falls are home to many different species of fish, octopus, and rays. Because the falls are pretty deep we do not offer Sea TREK in this location, but one of our operators, and an experienced diver did Sea TREK at the top of the falls. Marvelous!

Check out this video of the falls in action!

Giant Kelp Forests

Giant kelp forests only grow in rocky locations where the sunlight can still reach the ocean floor. Kelp is one of the fastest growing plants, and giant kelp — under optimum conditions — can grow as much as 2 feet a day reaching heights between 100 and 175 feet! As kelp grows it floats toward the surface and eventually creates a canopy by intertwining with other kelp plants. The kelp forest is home to many amazing creatures including sea otters. Sea otters love kelp forests because their favorite foods live there, and when they sleep they wrap the kelp around themselves to keep from drifting away. You can Sea TREK amidst the giant kelp forest in Catalina and experience the beauty for yourself. Wonderful!

Champagne Bay

Off the island of Dominica in the Bahamas there is a popular diving site called Champagne Bay. It gets its name from the tiny bubbles that escape from a fumarole – a volcanic vent that seeps gases and mineral rich heated water. The warm water and bubbles make for a beautiful, unique diving experience. From a school of squid to colonies of sponges the area is teeming with life, because of the nutrient rich water, although only the heartiest species can survive close to the actual vent. Fabulous!

Cenotes at Xel-Ha

Cenotes are fresh-water, partially submerged caverns that are interconnected by underground rivers, which eventually connect to the sea. The cenotes at Xel-Ha are some of the most beautiful in the world. Many people kayak, float, swim, and explore the cavernous water features, and dive in the underwater caves. Cenotes were sacred in Mayan culture, providing a source of fresh water, and a place of communion with the gods. The cenotes take thousands of years to form and because of this they are considered a national treasure in Cancún and the Riviera Maya. Amazing!

These 7 wonders offer a small glimpse into the mystery and beauty of our world’s waters. With less than 5% of the ocean explored, and even some lakes remaining largely unsearched, earth’s waters offer a lot to wonder about. If you ever have the chance to explore some of these wonders we recommend you do, after all Sea TREK was invented to bring the beauty of the sea to anyone who can walk and breathe!


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