Since the ’90s, Branson has been involved in various humanitarian causes. He worked with Nelson Mandela to try and solve a variety of global conflicts, helped found and sponsor the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and opened a school of entrepreneurship in South Africa. All this before 2005. In 2006, Branson also pledged to invest $3 billion towards helping address the concerns of global warming advocates and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Branson also hosted an environmental event at one of his private islands in the Caribbean, where he likely received the idea of exploring the Great Blue Hole in Belize. If there’s anyone who is suited for this mission, it surely is this adventurous and extravagantly wealthy dude. His vast access to financial resources and positive “let’s get it done” mentality was just the right thing for this kind of mission. But even Branson wasn’t prepared for what the group was about to find.
Carrying His Grandfather’s Legacy
Fabien Cousteau was facing the mission of exploring the Great Blue Hole not just out of professional desire but also for personal reasons. He was, after all, the grandson of Jacques Cousteau, one of the world’s most famous oceanographers. Back in 1971, Jacques had gone to the famous Great Blue Hole but could not explore it because the technology at the time was not sufficient. The legendary French ocean explorer dubbed the Great Blue Hole one of the world’s most important diving spots.
Now, more than four decades later, ocean exploration tech has improved beyond our wildest dreams. Divers such as Fabien are now equipped with technology that can potentially give them unlimited exploration capacities. Up to this day, no diver has ever managed to explore the depths of this miracle of nature. Luckily for Fabien, he was backed up by one of the world’s richest, most powerful, and most adventurous explorers the world has ever seen, Sir Richard Charles Branson.
All of Virgin’s Resources on His Side
The legendary English business magnate, Sir Richard Branson, is one of the world’s most beloved and successful entrepreneurs. One of the things that make Branson such a unique individual is his love of exploration and trying out new ideas, along with the resources of a multi-billionaire. He cares deeply about our planet and has a sly sense of adventure when it comes to challenging and daring missions. When Branson first heard of the Great Blue Hole in Belize, he saw an opportunity.
Richard Branson and Fabien Cousteau teamed up for a mission into the Great Blue Hole. The two also recruited oceanographer Erika Bergman as their main pilot. The three were extremely excited about this journey, and we're excited to make history. None of them had any clue what was lurking in the depths of the Great Blue Hole, but they were going to do whatever it took to find out.
The World Was Watching
The scope and size of this mission drew countless viewers from all over the world. While we have seen men and women attempt to fly into space in the past, there was never such a televised adventure into the depths of the earth. This scientific team was backed by one of the best divers in the world, as well as the world’s most extravagant billionaire. While geologists pondered the depth and properties of the Great Blue Hole, audiences at home were excited about the novelty. Many people truly believed that the team was going to find a giant monster down there, or perhaps even a few of them.
Richard Branson had referred to the mission as a “planetary inner space” exploration. This was truly the closest thing you can get to a real-life science fiction film. Young Americans who grew up reading Henry Melville's "Moby Dick" all had a chance to relive their childhood memory through this great mission. The team was as prepared as they could be, all equipment was functioning and ready, and the audience at home was full of excitement. This mission was ready to begin, and the whole world was watching as the entire event was televised live on the Discovery Channel.
In an epic start to the journey, the team of Richard Branson, Fabien Cousteau, and their trusty pilot, Erika Bergman, entered their submarine and started descending. Audiences could see the submarine as it slowly went down into the giant dark blue hole. As if the event wasn't entertaining enough, the three brilliant explorers were cracking jokes and making observations every step of the way. Their aquatic submarine was top of the line and gave an almost 360-degree view into the action.
The team kept descending for about 10 minutes inside their submarine until they began to get close to the walls of the blue hole. To many, this vista looked like the result of a giant bomb or asteroid, one that blew a 400-foot hole right inside the ocean. At first, it appeared to the experienced team that the formations of this hole were steep and mechanic. As they kept descending into the depths, Branson, Cousteau, and Bergman soon found out that they were in a completely different location than they had ever expected.