April 19

Anna and Andy loading reels

Chechen (chay-chen)

An unfortunate encounter with the “Pizza Tree”

Andy preparing for his dive

George & Mike review the map of Sistema Camilo


Project Participants and Sponsors

Aquatech/Villas De Rosa
Sartek Industries
Dive Rite Inc.


“Exploration Continues”

Friday, April 19, 2002 –
Due to continuing logistical issues we once again fielded a small team into one site only. The most pressing data needs for today continue to be at Cenote Calavera. Once the data is collected then a larger scale deployment of diver assets will be accomplished. The team is looking forward to the arrival of two more team members tomorrow.

Chechen (chay-chen) is a tree exclusive to Mexico. The tree in its earlier stages is small and bush-like. In its more mature stage the tree grows quite tall to nearly 60 feet. The leaves are oval in shape with tapered leaves. The leaf is purple-green in color. The plant should be avoided because it is considered to be toxic. Due to a cut in the stems or trunk of the plant, the sap oozes out. The sap can be white or black depending on the species. If the sap makes contact with skin it can cause a nasty rash. The rash begins with small clear bubbles on the skin. Next, the rash becomes red and irritated. Large water blisters occur next. The reason the plant is sometimes referred to as the “Pizza Tree” is because the wound on the skin resembles pizza [See picture]. The area should be cleaned and then antibiotic ointment applied. Local remedies include applying a thick saltwater paste to the area. They suggested drinking a bit of Tequila before employing this technique!

George and Andy entered Cenote Calavera again today to remove some existing unknotted line placed in the system by irresponsible cave divers not from the Cambrian Foundation, (the creed being if you lay line in a cave, you must survey it and publish a map) and replace it with knotted line. Once the new line was in, the team surveyed it on the trip out.

As they passed through the zero visibility entrance they tied off the reel and immediately found themselves swimming through a restriction into the halocline (a stunning visual experience). The majority of the dive was conducted in tight white passage in halocline until we reached the end of the tunnel. Each day Sistema Camillo continues to grow!

This was Andy’s first dive in halocline “I can’t describe how disorienting it is. It adds a degree of difficulty to caving that can make a dive interesting.”

The evening events included dive planning for the next day. The day’s dive data was plotted and then updated on the master map. Anna, Cliff, Andy, Thecia and Mike loaded reels for the next day’s mission. The team also prepared a “shot list” for video coverage.

Expedition Team:
Anna Olecka
George McCulley
Terrence Tysall
Mike St. Germain
Andy Henderson
Thecia Taylor
Renee Power
Cliff Sifton


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