If you're a sea monster looking for a new place to call home, you probably couldn't do better than the South China Sea's aptly-named "Dragon Hole." The 426-foot-wide submerged sinkhole, located in the Paracel Islands, has just hit the record books as the world's deepest ocean blue hole.
Chinese researchers, engaged in studying the geologic wonder for the last 12 months, have announced that the Dragon Hole dives a stunning 987-feet underwater. According to the Xinhua News Agency, this would surpass the current record holder, Dean's Blue Hole near the Bahamas, by more than 300 feet.
Here's a snapshot of what the Dragon Hole looks like from satellite imagery on Google Maps:
The research team, in partnership with the Sansha Ship Course Research Institute for Coral Protection, found that while the upper portion of the Dragon Hole supported more than 20 species of fish and marine organisms, areas below 300 feet were devoid of life due to near-zero levels of oxygen.
In recognition of the discovery, the site was formally recognized on July 24 as the "Sansha Yongle Blue Hole" by the Sansha City Government. The panel also officially called for a five-year plan to further study the formation and enact conservation measures.
"We will strive to protect the natural legacy left by the Earth," Xu Zhifei, vice mayor of Sansha City, told Xinhau News.
While the Dragon Hole is now the world's deepest "blue hole," it's not the world's deepest sinkhole. That distinction belongs to the Pozzo del Merro in Italy, the deepest underwater vertical cave in the world with a depth of 1,286 feet.
You can check out drone footage of the surface of the Dragon Hole below: