It’s a massive blue hole that’s often called the “eye” in the South China Sea. Some fisherman believe it’s the mythical Dragon Hole where the Monkey King found his Ruyi Jingu Bang – the “Compliant Golden-Hooped Rod” that can change in size from 17,500 pounds to the size of a needle. Whatever you call Longdong, it’s now officially the deepest underwater sinkhole in the world.
Researchers with the Sansha Ship Course Research Institute for Coral Protection have been exploring and measuring Longdong for a year using sonar scanners, deep-sea current meters and a Video Ray Pro 4 underwater robot. It’s located near the Paracel Islands, which have been fought over by China, Vietnam and Taiwan for over a century. On July 22nd, the researchers announced that Longdong is 426 feet wide and 987 feet and claimed world record status by 300 feet from Dean’s Blue Hole near the Bahamas.
Blue holes are underwater sinkholes or caves that are open to the surface of a body of water, often with a rim of limestone or coral. The rim and the walls of the sinkhole help give the water in it its dark blue hue. The walls also keep the waters of the blue hole somewhat separate from the body of water it’s in, often giving them different marine life, temperatures, salinity and other features.
That’s the case with Longdong. According to media reports, the researchers found 20 different varieties of fish and marine creatures, but only to about one-third of the way down. After around 300 feet, it’s devoid of oxygen and life.
The government of Sansha, the closest major city in the Paracel Islands, has decided to officially claim the blue hole and named it the Sansha Yongle Blue Hole. However, vice mayor Xu Zhifei promises that the city will not turn it into a tourist attraction.
We will strive to protect the natural legacy left by the Earth.
Good luck with that. In a sense, Dragon Hole is already a tourist attraction. The classic 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West mentions it as the place where the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) finds his secret weapon – the Ruyi Jingu Bang, a giant size-changing golden staff.
Whatever you call it, the Dragon Hole has the record and is taking on all challengers.