“The Downstream Beast is tamed”
Tuesday, April 16, 2002 –
Tuesday’s operation called for three teams with entirely unique and very important missions (two land based teams and one dive team). Before we get to far along with the exciting update for today, the Akumal team welcomed the newest member of the 2002 expedition dive team, Anna Olecka. We also need to express our thanks to our “Stateside” based member, Kyle Creamer (Kyle is taking care of the tedious task of ensuring that the web updates are completed and posted to the Cambrian Foundation web page….Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!). Anna will get a chance to experience the splendor that Sistemo Camillo has to offer during her familiarization dives tomorrow (whenever a new dive team member arrives, they are required to make dives into the system for the sole purpose of becoming acclimated to this very unique environment).
Team 1 consisted of Andy and Cliff . They were challenged with two missions. The first order of business was to clear the trail previously blazed to Little Cave Cenote so team three could get a GPS reading from the site. The beginnings of a second base camp were established at Carri’s Loft (named in honor of Mike St. Germain’s wife). This will enable an element of the team to begin upstream exploration from that point (this saves valuable swim time when compared to staging operations out of Cenote Camillo). This required creating a new trail and clearing an area large enough to stage the tanks and equipment for 3-4 divers. The second mission was to widen the opening of Carri’s Loft (as much as possible) to accommodate entry by a diver with 4 tanks. Cliff Sifton entered the Cenote and verified that the divers had ample room to complete their entries into the site safely.
Team 2 (dive team) consisting of Terrence and Mike headed downstream for the purpose of re-surveying a long stretch of passage “The Low Silt Line”. This tunnel is was name for one of its distinguishing characteristics (being small and very silty in certain places). Re-surveying this 2500+ feet of cave passage proved to be critical to the overall mission of this expedition (producing a quality-high grade map). In addition to getting all of this tie in and resurvey data the team was able to see the largest concentration of Troglobitic life yet encountered; numerous Isopods, over 15 swimming around one area, Blind Cave Shrimp, Crayfish, and three of the biggest Blind Cave fish yet encountered. Terrence was very excited later on when he and Mike discovered several Remipedes hunting below the halocline on their survey out. Total dive time was just over 3 hours.
Team 3 consisting of Renee and George had land duty today. They began their mission by helping the rest of the team carry equipment to Cenote Camillo and prepare for the dives and trail clearing. Next stop, with the help of Muchacho William, was to locate the landowner of Cenote Calavera. They went to various locations including the Tulum Pueblo Police Station and the home of the owner Don Raphael Domingues. The son of the owner, Fernando, was there and gladly welcomed Renee and George onto the property. They all went to revisit Cenotes Calavera and Muchachos. George took GPS readings of each area and Renee took photos. After leaving the property, they headed off to various other locations to acquire needed GPS readings. The team met Cliff and Andy just in time to watch them finish their work at Carri’s Loft. Later that afternoon various members of the team went along with William to make final arrangements with the Don Raphael Domingues. They found him near his home and acquired permission to dive the Cenotes on his property. A big thanks to Don Raphael Domingues for allowing us access.
Mike St. Germain
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