Chinese researchers have discovered what they describe as the world’s deepest underwater sinkhole in the South China Sea. Dubbed the “Dragon Hole,” the gigantic limestone cave boasts depths of 300 meters (987 feet) below sea level—nearly equivalent to the height of the London’s Shard. Scientists have also identified over 20 species of fish living in the upper part of the sinkhole’s beautiful inky blue waters.
The Sansha Ship Course Research Institute for Coral Protection used a variety of equipment, including underwater robots and sonar scanners, to determine the sinkhole’s size: 300.89 meters in depth, 130 meters in width (426 feet) at the entrance, and 36 meters in width (118 feet) at the bottom. The depth of the mysterious sinkhole far exceeds the Dean’s 202-meter-deep Blue Hole in the Bahamas, which previously held the title as the world’s deepest sinkhole. The dimensions were measured during field research trips over the past year.
Aside from its record-breaking depth, the beautiful and mysterious “Dragon Hole” is also drawing headlines because of its location in the hotly disputed South China Sea. Locals have gone so far to describe the sinkhole as the “eye” of the South China Sea due to its location in a coral reef near the contested Paracel Islands. The discovery of the “world’s deepest” sinkhole is also likely to boost tourism interest in the area, which China hopes to develop into a Maldives-like attraction. Despite claims that developers will focus on environmental protection, the developing tourism may spell trouble for the coral-rich waters.
Images via Huanqiu