The purpose of today’s diving activities was to obtain the same water samples at Rock Spring that we have already obtained at Wekiwa Spring, and to place some crayfish traps in the cave. We wanted to get basic water quality data from the important areas of the cave, along with water and substrate samples for microbial assessment and trace element analysis. Accordingly, Renee and Andrew took a variety of specimen containers into the cave, whilst Rhiannon and Bob took the crayfish traps to fix in the cave. These were, as before, baited using tins of cat food with holes punched in the lid. Terrence and Amy remained on the surface to conduct chemical tests and water quality analysis using the hydrolab of the samples that the divers brought back.
The cave at Rock Springs consists of a phreatic tube 20-40 feet across that goes back about 600 feet from the entrance. There the cave divides into two passages, with strong water flow coming down both of them. We wanted to get samples from both of these water streams as far into the cave system as we could. Renee and Andrew therefore swam ahead through the Way Ahead Restriction and into the passage explored by Terrence and Andrew last May (see ‘Hard Rock, Soft Wings’). When they reached the previous limit of exploration they took the water and microbiology samples and Renee spotted a tiny troglobitic isopod about half an inch long, which they captured for examination at the Florida Museum of Natural History. They also obtained the same samples from the end of the line in the left-hand passage (‘The Bone Passage’) from which there is a significant amount of water flow.
Bob and Rhiannon expertly placed a crayfish trap near the ceiling of the cave about 200 feet from the entrance, and plan to return tomorrow to check whether it has caught anything and also to place another trap. Before their departure Bob and Rhiannon collected the sampling containers that Andrew and Renee had secured on the guideline.
Once diving, sampling and analysis were complete at Rock Springs, the team made their way over to Moccasin Sink to inspect the crayfish trap placed two days ago. Sadly, no crayfish were present but there were again a few brave minnows who had ventured inside.
A big thank you again to Keith Mattson at The Dive Station in Orlando for his continuing fantastic support in providing gas fills for this project. Another big thank you to Linda Wooddell (Amy’s Mom) for providing the team with food and moral support.