By Katy Gill
This recreational diver tested the boundaries by venturing into the deep, dark abyss of The Great Blue Hole.
Erin Spencer, 40, travelled 11,814 kilometres from New Zealand to Belize, reaching a depth of 134.18ft – four feet further than the recommended recreational depth.
The international customer relations manager said although visibility diminished after diving only 20 metres – due to several days of rough weather – the sight was incredible.
After the strong winds meant her first planned trip to the submarine sinkhole was cancelled, Erin was determined to tough it out, even if it meant ‘losing her breakfast over the side of the boat along the way’.
The 40-year-old said: “It was everything I expected it to be – big, round and spectacular!
“The real thrill was going over the edge and into the unknown, having all but dreamt of this moment for such a very long time.
“A weightless moment of controlled free fall with my surroundings becoming darker with every passing metre.
“It was a somewhat surreal feeling.
“Almost like experiencing narcosis and entering a temporary state similar to drunkenness.”
Located in the Caribbean Sea, the Great Blue Hole is a 1,043ft wide and 407ft deep submarine sinkhole, which formed between 15,000 to 153,000 years ago.
One of the main reasons Erin wanted to dive into this natural beauty was to see first-hand the stalactites that were embedded deep within the caves.
The manager said: “Huge stalactites greet you as if to say ‘welcome, you’ve made it’.
“To the depths we descended, with a weightless moment of controlled free fall, my surroundings became darker with each passing metre.
“That was until the alarm started screeching on my Suunto dive watch indicating that I had reached my maximum pre-set depth of 131ft.
“Before I knew it I had dropped 134.18ft in total and was face to face with my first giant stalactite.
“This was what I travelled all this distance for – to see first-hand the splendour of what was once above water all those many thousands of years ago.”