Cave Diving Venues

Monday, May 28, 2012 9:50:14 AM America/Denver

Beginning with the U.S., one of the best places to cave dive is around the area of Central and Northern Florida. The first underwater cave system explored in the US is the Leon Sinks cave system, off of Tallahassee Florida. A massive system, it spans Leon and Wakulla counties in a series of connected caves.

The Weeki Wachee Spring is one of the deepest caves in the U.S. with strong outflow currents, making penetration very difficult. Most of the commonly explored caves in Florida have permanent guidelines making for easy exploration of the limestone caves.

The Grand Bahama Island is home to a massive underwater cave system, making a labyrinth underneath the whole of the island and extending out into the surrounding sea bed. The caves are home to some simple harmless sea life including a blind cave fish and remipedia. The limestone caves used to be air-filled, thus still containing stalagmites from the ice age.

Cave diving is a relatively popular sport in Australia, where the amazing caves and sinkholes beg for exploration. In south-eastern Australia, there are some amazingly clear-watered sinkholes and caves, due to the lack of silt. Cave diving began here in the 1950s. After a series of cave diving deaths from 1969 to 1973, the Cave Divers Association of Australia (CDAA) was formed to assess and certify Australian divers at different levels of training: Deep Cavern, Cave, and Advanced Cave.

The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is home to a 10 kilometer strip of caves along the Caribbean coastline. This explorable section of a larger strip starts in Cancun and ends at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. The caves are polygenetic, meaning that they have had more than one cycle from air to water.

These Mexican caves began as water caves, and when sea levels receded long ago, they filled with air and began collecting speleothem deposits. Now refilled with water, these underwater speleothem are part of the draw to viewing these caves. Speleothem are delicate and must be carefully conserved by divers swimming past.

With cave diving in Brazil, Italy, and the U.K, there are many more areas across the world for cave diving enthusiasts to explore with a variety of different flora and features in each underwater system. As with all aspects of cave diving, the geography and geology of the system to be explored is important for each diver to study to ensure proper foreknowledge of potential challenges. Examples include currents, wildlife, and preservation issues.











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Cave Diving Safety

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:49:40 AM America/Denver

Sheck Exley wrote a publication on cave diving safety in 1977 called, “Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint for Survival.” He described true stories of cave diving accidents and detailed what could have prevented each one. Although a variety of mistakes can be made cave diving, Exley proposed that all cave diving accidents could be attributed to at least one of a handful of cardinal rules being broken.

The primary five rules Exley described are often recalled with the mnemonic “The Good Divers Are Living.” However, in the United States, many trainers teach the mnemonic “Thank Goodness All Divers Live,” with a switching around of the order of the five rules.

1) Training is vital for the cave diver. A safe diver will never push beyond the limits of what is taught to be safe and reasonable. Training goes in stages with each level more difficult than the last, adding greater knowledge and experience to earlier trainings.

2) Guide lines are used to connect the leader of the dive team to the outside of the cave entrance. It is a thin but strong rope that the team can follow back the way they came to avoid getting lost or turned around in the cave. Failure to use this is considered the most frequent cause of cave-diver fatalities as divers can so easily lose their way inside the caves and run out of air before they find their way out.

3) Depth rules are vital for divers to understand, because with increasing depth, more air and decompression are required. The maximum operating depth (MOD) is a depth that no diver should pass beneath without the potential for sudden death. And nitrogen narcosis is a real threat in a cave.

4) Air management is based on the “rule of thirds.” One third of the initial gas supply is allowable for ingress, a second third for egress, and the final third is reserved for saving a fellow diver should an emergency occur. But if there is little to no outflow from the cave, it is best to be even a little more reserved with the air supply.

5) Lights are so important in a dark environment that if a light source went out, the diver could become completely disoriented and lost. For that reason, all divers are recommended to use a primary source of light, bringing two additional sources as backup.

Following these five safety guidelines, especially after extensive training, can prevent potentially deadly incidents, making cave diving a much safer experience.













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Cave Diving Overview

Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:47:36 AM America/Denver

Cave diving is a thrilling version of underwater diving drawing a greater following every year, as some underwater divers grow bored of the usual and seek something more exciting. Cave diving provides an often unexplored realm to view with the aid of underwater lights.

Cave diving requires special equipment, and in the United Kingdom is an add-on to the very popular sport of caving. In the U.S., cave diving is a variation of scuba diving. Rebreathers are necessary equipment for cave diving, devices which greatly extend the breathing time underwater in case of being lost inside a cave for a time.

Diver propulsion vehicles are commonly used to get down into the caves and dry suits are needed for maintaining proper body heat in the cold environment well hidden from the sun. Cave diving requires great skill and extensive training with inherent risks like drowning and decompression sickness.

Cave diving can be as low-intensity as cavern diving, diving into caves no further than 200 feet and not beyond the reach of natural light. But others explore far beyond this, penetrating caves thousands of feet deep and well beyond the reach of the sun. Silt and sand get kicked up into the water with the diver’s passing, making visibility a challenge even with the aid of artificial light.

The rewards for the extensive training, expensive equipment, and bravery are great as underwater caves often have flora and physical features that cannot be found elsewhere. And while many argue that cave diving is a deadly sport, statistics reveal that most deaths that have occurred in cave diving have been due to lack of training or proper equipment.







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Cave Diver Training

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 9:41:26 AM America/Denver

Cave diving is not something just anyone can pick up and try. It is a highly dangerous and specialized form of diving reserved only for those who have undergone extensive training in stages over time. Academic training has been proven to be absolutely inefficient as a standalone method. Without increasing levels of experience, new divers will panic under circumstances a more experienced diver could handle and still follow protocol.

Going into underwater caves involves, at times, great depths and pressure. A lack of light and the kicking up of silt reduces or eliminates visibility without aid. And currents through the caves add to the complexity of the dive.

Cave diving training begins with the academic portion, learning about equipment like rebreathers and diver propulsion vehicles. The configuration of the equipment naturally varies and protocols and techniques for using them are taught as well. And while the divers’ safety is the primary focus of all cave diving training, the ethical considerations of preserving the ecology within the caves is taught as well.

Real life training starts with cavern training, when divers practice using gas planning, reel and handling, communication, propulsion techniques and using the buddy system. Introduction to cave training builds upon those basic techniques, allowing divers to go a little deeper than the cavern zone. These trainings will often be done at sites that contain permanent guidelines installed for lasting use. Successful completion of this part of training results in basic cave certification and the ability to penetrate to 1/6 of a double cylinder unit.

Apprentice cave training adds to the basic certification and teaches divers how to do complex dive planning and practice decompression on deeper dives. Apprentices in training will be able to go deeper into the caves with permanent guide lines and also explore some of the side lines. With apprentice certification, divers can go in as far as they can with 1/3 of double cylinders.

Finally, full cave training leads to final certification. Such experienced and well trained divers are able to do multiple guideline jumps between mainlines and sidelines. They can dive deeper, with the skill of decompression to elongate diving time. Fully experienced and trained cave divers are better equipped to handle emergency situations and remain calm enough to solve the problem and get to safety.









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Diving Concerns for Ears and Equalization

Monday, November 14, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

At one time or another, every diver has had some type of difficulty with ears. Ear problems in diving don’t usually affect hearing, but they certainly can. This installment about diving health will deal with common diving abnormalities in the ears and sinuses. There are two basic mechanisms of ear injury in SCUBA: moisture and pressure. Not only are ear problems common, they are the most likely problems that will keep you out of the water. Read More
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Fish Identification- Part 3

Monday, November 7, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

After writing down specific markings I see on a fish, I make note of the basic body shape of the fish and some of the defining characteristics of it's shape. The basic knowledge of fish anatomy comes in handy (Fish Identification Part 2) so that you know which parts of the fish to observe. Sometimes a quick sketch is faster than writing all of this down. Read More
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Fish Identification -Part 2

Monday, October 31, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

A basic knowledge of fish anatomy is always helpful in identifying fish. It will help you keep better notes on the defining characteristics of fish. The basic body shape and the positioning and shape of the fins are especially important in identification. For example, the tail fin, also known as the caudal fin can take on many different shapes. We will look at some of those shapes in part 3. Read More
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Fish Identification Part 1

Monday, October 24, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

My favorite part of scuba diving is seeing the aquatic life. Their movements, color and the way they swim is a thing of beauty. Ove the last decade, I've become very interesting in correctly identifying the fish I see and I've been trying to keep a running list of the animals I have seen underwater. Sometimes I carry an underwater slate and write down the markings I see on fish so I can identify them later. Read More
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Decompression Illness? - Part 1, On-Site Exam (CCRJosh.com)

Monday, October 17, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

This is more of a resource than an article. I did not come up with this exam- it is taken from the DAN website. If you are not a member of DAN, I would highly recommend supporting the research that the organization is conducting. See the DAN website for more information. Read More
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Choosing a Technical Diving Instructor (CCRJosh.com)

Monday, October 10, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

The most important part of your tech diving learning experience is making sure you have a great instructor. Why is this? Because you want to complete these “technical” dives as safely and as efficiently as you can. You want to enjoy it and live to dive another day. At least that is what I assume MY students want. If you want to just shell out the cash to get a card, there are instructors around that will do that too. Read More
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Snorkeling With A Small Child

Thursday, October 6, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

My daughter (age 3) had her first snorkel lesson in the ocean a couple of months ago. She has mastered snorkeling in the pool and she was excited to see some fish. She was adorable in her gear and she saw a yellow sting ray, a trumpet fish and a few other little fish. She was thrilled. We were in a very calm little swimming area and she had a great time! Read More
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So you want to dive out of the country?

Sunday, July 17, 2011 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

Staying healthy during a dive trip should be our number one priority, right? So, how do we do that? In this installment, I will discuss some of the components to maintaining health. You can control many of the variables involved. Let’s get started! Read More
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Importance Of Proper Training And Equipment

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 10:00:00 PM America/Denver

This article illustrates the importance of proper dive training and equipment.

Safety Issues for Sport and Technical Diving: Training and Equipment

Proper Training

Divers need proper training for specialized environments, equipment and gas mixtures.

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