Sunken Cities, Sacred Cenotes, and Golden Sharks

Travels of a Water-Bound Adventurer

Title Details

Pages: 248

Illustrations: 19 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 04/30/2004

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2592-7

List Price: $32.95

Sunken Cities, Sacred Cenotes, and Golden Sharks

Travels of a Water-Bound Adventurer

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  • Description
  • Reviews

In Sunken Cities, Sacred Cenotes, and Golden Sharks nature and travel writer Bill Belleville takes us through Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America in quest of the distinctive, the wondrous, the threatened, and the undiscovered. His wanderings take him to the once prosperous, now submerged pirate city of Port Royal, Jamaica, and to an offshore Florida reef just in time for a night dive to witness the seldom-seen spawning of the coral.

In the Dominican Republic, Belleville dives with archaeologists in search of pre-Columbian Taino artifacts, long lost in the dark depths of a sacred cenote. In Trinidad he joins native fishermen in a search for the rare golden hammerhead shark. Whether he is seeking the queen conch off the islands of the Turks and Caicos or the flashlight fish in Cuba's southern waters, Belleville's purpose is always more than adventure for its own sake. Hungering for the distinct sense of a place, he learns all he can about the wild secrets of remote landscapes, from inland jungles to teeming island waters.

Bill Belleville's writing is like a stream of phosphorescence in the ocean that he loves so well. Belleville's language creates a dreamy double vision, blending archetype and precision so well that the reader is convinced he has not merely read about jeweled morays and pink dolphins but has floated alongside them in tropical waters. These tales are not hairy-chested, macho attempts to conquer snowcapped peaks, but adventures into sensuality and meaning.

—Susan Zakin, author of Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement

I admire the precision, the poignancy, and the passion of Bill Belleville's prose.

—Don George, Lonely Planet Global Travel Editor

What splendid adventures Bill Belleville guides us through! He is one of our great modern explorers, questing for gods in a time of technology, lusting for life. Here in this sensuous and unforgettable book he navigates us as deftly through language as he does Amazonian rivers or limestone fountains deep within the earth. His journey narratives are fluid, fresh, and piercingly poetic; what he finds is ceaselessly fascinating. I would travel with Bill Belleville to the ends of the earth.

—Janisse Ray, author of Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home

This collection of essays brings the reader to places that are noted for archaeological treasures, rare plants and animals, or great scenery, and water is the common denominator. Belleville, travel writer, scuba diver, and boater, seems always to be wet or preparing to be wet. As his armchair companions, readers may stay dry, but the expressive and descriptive prose allows them to experience the discovery and excitement as if they were there themselves. . . . Belleville is an old-fashioned adventurer, excited by what he finds, seeking just for the joy of finding. He must also be a man of great charm as he seems able to coax the most arcane information from his local guides. . . . As a book to read at leisure, it is a fine treat.


Bill Belleville is a fearless Florida scuba diver, explorer and underwater adventurer. He also is a heck of a writer. His poetic images . . . not only engage the reader but elevate his work to a higher level than just another trek through the jungle.

Covington News

Equal parts storyteller, chronicler, adventurer and conservationist, Belleville is a little Indiana Jones and a little Henry David Thoreau. His work often maps out a timeline of what a place once was, what it's become and where it's headed. Always present in his writing is a subtext of stewardship and genuine affection for the places he adventures in.

Orlando Weekly

Florida author Belleville is that much closer to solidifying his reputation as a top-shelf nature writer. As much adventure story as naturalistic poetry, Belleville’s latest excels at wrapping his eco-prose in a captivating form. After all, who doesn't love reading about sunken treasure? For Belleville, these treasures are both artifacts and living; he gives as much breathless attention to coral reproduction as he does to a now-underwater city. As with Deep Cuba, Sunken Cities is a book that tackles ecological and political problems in a way that's engaging simply as a stand-alone story.

Orlando Weekly

Belleville is an expert diver whose wanderlust takes him to places few sane people would venture. . . . Yet such is Belleville's talent that even when he ventures into relatively familiar territory, he brings an unfamiliar perspective, finding adventure and wonderment in little-seen corners of the natural world.

Natural History

About the Author/Editor

BILL BELLEVILLE, an award-winning environmental journalist and filmmaker, is also a veteran diver. His books include River of Lakes and Deep Cuba (both Georgia). His articles, which have appeared in such publications as Sierra, Oxford American, Islands, and Salon, have been anthologized in six other collections. Belleville lives in Sanford, Florida.