A crack team of cave divers will explore New Mexico’s famed Blue Hole underwater cave system this weekend.
The Advanced Diver Magazine Exploration Foundation will send a team down Blue Hole cave in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The cave has already been partially mapped down to a depth of 225 feet, but it’s believed to be much more extensive and the team is carrying equipment allowing them to go as deep as 350 feet.
Every member of the team is an expert cave diver with at least 15 years experience. Each brings their own specialty in biology, survey, photography, cinematography, equipment, logistics, multimedia, or other skills in order to fully document the cave and produce material for a proposed documentary. The ADM team holds records for exploring the two deepest and longest underwater caves in North America with depths below 450 feet and linear passages of over seven miles.
Blue Hole is a popular spot for scuba diving but the entrance to the caves has been barred by a grate for decades due to the deaths of two cave divers who were exploring the system.
Cave diving is a dangerous sport that requires extensive technical knowledge and physical endurance. While I enjoy caving and will happily go to Iraq and Somaliland on vacation, you won’t see me cave diving. It’s too hardcore for me. Best of luck to the ADM crew!
An Australian scuba diver set a new record for depth recently while exploring a remote underground river cave in New Zealand. He, and his teammates, braved dark passageways, icy cold water, and treacherous conditions in an effort to find the elusive source of the Pearse River.
Diver Craig Challan descended to a depth of 194 meters or roughly 636 feet, as he cautiously made his way along the submerged cavern. That depth marked a record, but still didn’t finish the exploration of the cave, nor did it lead to the discovery of the river’s source. But it did show that explorers can go to even greater depths than previously thought possible.
In the video below, brought to us by National Geographic, who helped partially fund the expedition, you can see what the divers had to deal with while exploring the cave. As they dove they were looking for new lifeforms, while mapping the cave itself, in waters that hovered around 43ºF. All the while they had to deal with the potential for decompression syndrome, better known as the Bends.
In order to avoid that painful condition, they built a series of underwater bases where they would spend hours at a time, waiting for their bodies to adapt to the changes in depth. Watching the video I was reminded of the series of camps that are built on mountains like Everest, where climbers wait to acclimatize before moving up. This works in reverse, but is similar in concept.
While I’m fascinated by cave diving, I’m not sure you’d ever catch me that far beneath the surface and completely surrounded by water. Scary!