Photo by IZE
The history of our beloved South Water Caye, a now modern-day world treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be dated back to the time of the dinosaurs and beyond. Millions of years ago during the Pleistocene, which lasted from 2 million years ago to between 8 and 12,000 years ago, the Earth was marked with a series of Ice Ages and a series of warmer periods of time in which the ice caps melted and sea levels rose. During these warmer periods, the skeletons of rudimentary life forms of the ancient seas formed thick limestone formations along the sea bed with eons of sedimentation forming the basis of what is our little island today.
For centuries, the area now known as the Belize Barrier Reef, fringed with limestone and sandy islands was completely underwater and at other times completely exposed. The last Ice Age, which we know for was marked with a drop in the ocean levels and small islands such as South Water Caye began to appear along the shallower waters that would serve as an ideal condition for sustaining the amazing diversity of life found in our namesake Marine Reserve. Corals formed over centuries along the limestone bottom creating the perfect environment for the 500 species of fish that call the Belize Barrier Reef their home, along with numerous mollusks like the Queen Conch.
Photo credit Reef CI
Long after the dinosaurs, rains eroded pockets or holes into the limestone surface which was often almost fully filled with a saltwater table that fluctuated with the tide. The same rains brought freshwater, which floats on saltwater.
This gives us a clue as to why South Water Caye got its name, from when pirates and buccaneers rode the seas, fishermen traders dating back to the ancient Maya people whose descendants still inhabit modern day coastlines, and explorers and colonialists made their way from Europe. All were lured by the wealth of the forests of the mainland and the favourable trade winds that dominated the area. South Water Caye’s unique geology made it an ideal stopping point for freshwater collection as it boasted two freshwater surface wells, which can still be seen to this day.
In the last 100 years, South Water Caye served as a fisherman’s camp and later became privately owned, the 15 acres divided amongst several families from the mainland. The property that is home to Blue Marlin has been home to Ms. Rosella, the owner, and her family for nearly half a century. The family built some small cabins and came for the summers and holidays to take a break from their citrus farming. The family developed the land with the environment in mind, planting coconuts to stop erosion and provide food, maintaining mangroves, and becoming stewards of the sea around them by practicing sustainable fishing and eco-tourism.
Ms. Rosella decided to share the beauty of the island with her many friends from around the world and 30 years ago opened the doors to Blue Marlin Lodge, which has since become a premier dive and fishing resort facility. Families create their own memories and histories here on their holidays. The history of the lodge is found on the many photos that line the walls of the Clubhouse and Charlie’s Bar, documenting the building of the resort, the hurricanes withstood, and the once in a lifetime experiences of our guests, such as diving with endangered turtles or catching a grand slam! Come make your own history here with us and discover the beauty of this most special of places in the world!