Blue holes, caves, and caverns are not seen as remarkable or extraordinary to the people of the Bahamas but there is nowhere else in the world where these underwater landmarks are such great in number. The focus of the blog post is to relate, reflect and display what lies among both caverns; the Mermaid pond and Owl’s Hole and how they both are connected. However, both are connected because they are underwater caves but yet they both still differ because the Owl’s hole is seen as a site of resilience whereas the Mermaid Pond is seen as a site of memory.
With water covering about 71% of the earth, there are many questions that remain as to what exactly lies beneath the surface of the ocean. The answer to this tends to lie amongst those who may have a strong belief or disbelief in the existence of mermaids. One place that they tend to inhabit are underground caves, ponds, caverns and according to research it is said that they tend to live in freshwater and mainly found in swamps, ponds, rivers, lakes, and creeks (“Lake Mermaid”, n.d.). It is even documented that mermaids are said to have resided in the Bahamas among different caverns and passageways for many years.
The existence of mermaids and stories about them can very much be traced back to the early 14th century where sailors first spotted them (Bradford, 2017). Before the headline of how mermaids were found in the Bahamas, there were other documentation that stated otherwise. According to research, it said that a mermaid was spotted off the coast of Haiti by Christopher Columbus in 1493 but he did not take the mermaid with him because the mermaid was not one who possessed great beauty (Carlton, n.d.). Another mermaid also was spotted by in 1614. Captain John Smith had seen a mermaid swimming in the water and fell in love with it, because of it’s great beauty that it possessed. (Bradford, 2017).
It is believed that mermaids went extinct for over 65 million years ago but yet somehow they were spotted in the Bahamas during the 1990s. The mermaid was first spotted in the Bahamas in the early 1990s in Freeport, Lewis Yard on Hunter’s Road (“The Mermaid Pond”, n.d). According to many residents of this community, the mermaid was spotted by young school kids who happen to be playing around the pond and came into contact with the mermaid that was at the pond. Word of this mermaid living in the pond began to spread around the community and soon many elders were able to vouch that it is in fact true that the mermaid exists.
The mermaid was described as one with blue eyes, blonde hair and a forest green tail. It is indicated that the mermaid in fact loved children and because of this the mermaid would have conversations with them. One child had indicated that the mermaid had told her that there were underground caverns under the pond that she would explore whenever she had the chance. Those who had seen the mermaid was fortunate while others, of course, weren’t. Stories were told of how a young boy had such an urge to see this mermaid that he would do whatever it took, even if that means going against his mother’s words. Elders and parents knew that this mermaid loved children but they didn’t know what the mermaid was capable of, so they told their children and grandchildren to stay away from the pond. One night the young boy snuck out of his bed and went to the pond. He had heard a voice saying, “Mantaray, mantaray, I don’t eat fish.” The following morning the only thing that was found of the boy was his clothing and it was found near the pond. It was never mentioned as to whether the mermaid did actually pull the young boy or any children into this hole and drowned them or did they accidentally fell in by themselves (Buettner n.p.).
Mermaids were said to be located all of the islands of the Bahamas and it was even indicated perhaps another mermaid had inhabited another cavern that is now called the Owl’s Hole and there are many folktale rumors that surfaces around this site that locals of the island claim to have witness (“Mermaid Pond”, n.d.).
This mermaid pond had become so well known, and not just nationwide but as to worldwide by the early 2000s. Italian professional diver, PADI Course Director and NSS-CDS Cave Diving Instructor at Underwater Explorers Society Cristina Zenota and her crew come down from Italy to do some research on the pond.
The purpose of the project was to determine whether what the mermaid had stated decades ago about underground caves, passageways and other caverns that may be under the “Mermaid Pond”. Initially after 5 long years of long nights of diving, dead ends errors, and extensive trials the hard work, dedication, and determination paid off.
Success was found, and it was proven that the mermaid was actually right. There are underground caverns under the pond and the pond connects to a cave that is called the Chimney Cave. The study has indicated that this Chimney blue hole behaves as though it is a whirlpool meaning that it is a bath drain, that is sucking down millions of liters of water as the tide goes in. Therefore this is why this blue hole has said to extremely dangerous (Bradford, 2017).
The question as to are mermaid real will always be a huge topic. The answer to that will lie among the one who ask. Mermaids are mythical, legendary creatures of the ocean. Until real hard core first hand evidence is discovered mermaids will forever be a mythical creature. Evidence that can be tested in the existence of these creatures are physical samples of dna, tissue, or even specimen that can be tested. Otherwise any source of here given information such as opinions and witnesses is just a rumor. Many stories have been told of mermaids living not only on Freeport but also to New Providence, Cat Island and other parts of the caribbean. So perhaps this is where they are ought to be and it is not impossible for them to be found but yet there will always be an existing point of view between believers of mermaids and non believers.
The Owl’s Hole is understood to be both a cavern and an inland blue hole. It is comprised of naturally formed fresh water, that is 30 feet in depth, with a 30-foot limestone wall surrounding it. An interesting fact is that the fresh water in this hole, is the rainfall of so many years that was stored in this underground “pool” (Palmer, 1985). Although this hole is comprised of natural fresh rain water, it sits on top of the salt water beneath and creates a lens that may look like a shimmer (Owl’s Hole Cave Dive Outback Adventure). When divers encounter this in the Owl’s Hole, it is known as Halocline. This hole receives its name from the Barn owls that inhabit it. This jaw dropping site can be described as a “hole in the earth”. The water of the Owl’s Hole is not only fresh, but also crystal clear. At the exposed entrance of the Owl’s Hole, beautiful palm trees surround the opening.
The Owl’s Hole is explained to be a cavern and blue hole based on the characteristics it is comprised of (Owner of Calabash Eco Adventures, personal communication, 2018, October 15). A cavern is basically one gigantic cave consisting of more caves as an individual venture further into it. Therefore, a cavern is the part of the cave that consists of natural light. When diving or exploring further into a cavern, an individual eventually moves away from the natural light and will need an artificial light to see. For example, a flashlight. When this occurs, they have exited the cavern and have entered the cave part of the Owl’s Hole. Moreover, the Owl’s Hole is not just a blue hole, but it is an inland blue hole. There are two types of blue holes, which are ocean blue holes and inland blue holes. Ocean blue holes tend to absorb and “spit out” water, while inland blue holes do not. Inland blue holes are also comprised of fresh water that lies above the salt water beneath. The water of an inland blue hole may also rise and fall with the tide, without any current being produced (Small Hope Bay Lodge).
In addition, not only is the Owl’s Hole both a cavern and inland blue hole, but it is also apart of a huge underwater cave system along with Mermaid’s Lair, Burial Mound Cave and Ben’s Cave. Burial Mound Cave and Ben’s Cave can be found at the Lucayan National Park, but the opening to the Mermaid’s Lair is in a small, swampy area walled with mangrove roots (Schwabe). The Mermaid’s Lair receives its name because of the large cathedral room that was discovered inside of it.
The Owl’s Hole tends to be associated with local folklore. According to the owner of Calabash Eco Adventures, (personal communication, 2018, October 15), old Bahamian folklore stated that mermaids lived inside of inland blue holes, while a sea creature named “Lusca” (which was believed to be a monstrous sea squid), lived inside of ocean blue holes. Hence, the blowing and sucking of ocean blue holes were believed to be the “Lusca” inhaling and exhaling water. Although mermaids nor the monstrous sea creature(Lusca) have not been seen or found in the Owl’s Hole, the marine life that do exist inside of this hole are fresh water eels, sleeper gobies (fresh water groupers), mosquito fish and remipedes.
The Owl’s Hole is a site of resilience due to it being discovered from the 1970s but was only recently made “accessible to the public” in 2004 (Cook, 2008, June 3). At the entrance of the Owl’s Hole is a 30-foot steel ladder, which was chained to it by the National Association of Cave Diving (NACD) safety officer, Ben Cook. It was put there to replace the previously rusted, dangerous ladder of the Owl’s Hole.
The reason Ben Cook (safety officer of NACD), along with the help of acquaintances replaced the old ladder with a new one, is to make the site safer for future cave divers and others willing to explore this magnificent site. Cook also replaced the ladder along with cleaning up the site to help it become a cleaner environment for future visitors. A safer and cleaner environment will encourage others to visit this site and help it become more aware to those that remain unfamiliar about it.
The Mermaid Pond and Owl’s Hole are both comprised of naturally stored fresh rain water. They are also understood to be connected with underground caverns, are blue holes, and are linked with mermaids, although it may only be “hear say” or local folklore. Although they are both blue holes, the Owl’s Hole is an inland blue hole and the Mermaid Pond is an ocean blue hole. Lastly, the Mermaid Pond is considered a site of memory and the Owl’s Hole is considered a site of resilience. The mermaid’s pond is recognized as a site of memory because it was well known worldwide for mermaids, so it is remembered as a site where mermaids inhabited. The Owl’s Hole is considered as a site of resilience because it was frequently over looked and ignored in the past, but with the help of Ben Cook and his acquaintances in making the site safer and cleaner, it became an attraction for those interested in cave diving, swimming and exploring.
Bradford, B.(2017, May 25). Mermaids & Mermen:Facts & Legends. Retrieved October 28, 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/39882-mermaid.html
Carlton, G. (n.d.). Turns Out, Mermaids Might Have Actually Been Real. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from https://www.ranker.com/list/historical-evidence-of-mermaids/genevieve-carlton
Cook, B. (2007, June 7). Bahama Ben’s Dive Expeditions. The Saga of The Owl Hole Ladder. Retrieved from http://bahamabencook.blogspot.com/2007/06/owl-hole-grand-bahama-is-classic.html
Cook, B. (2008, June 3). The Owl Hole Project. Journal of the National Association for Cave Diving. Retrieved from http://thebahamasweekly.com/publish/GrandBahama/The_Owl_Hole_Project
Dan, B. Inside Grand Bahama: The Insider’s Guide. Atlanta, Georgia. Fair Prospect Press. Pp 85-86
Owl’s Hole Cave Dive Outback Adventure. (2017). Retrieved from http://calabashecoadventures.com/owls-hole-cave-dive-outback-adventure
Mermaid Pond. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bahamas.com/vendor/mermaid-pond
Palmer, R. (1985). The Blue Holes of The Bahamas. London, Great Britain: Acford, Chichester and Sussex.
Rolle, S. (2018). Barn Owl’s Hole. Retrieved from http://www.bahamasgeotourism.com/place/grand-bahama-island-east-and-west-ends/bah88BCCAD18B9B58592
Small Hope Bay Lodge. Inland Blue Holes. Retrieved from https://www.smallhope.com/inland-blue-holes.html