The dive team enjoyed another successful day of sample collection, this time at
DeLeon Springs State Park. DeLeon Springs isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t open to cave divers normally, but the Cambrian Foundation conducts science dives in the cave with special permission from the park. Andrew Pitkin, Renee Power and Karl Shreeves began by fighting their way into the high-flow entrance Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a task so demanding that it took about a fifth of their allowable in-bound air supply. Once inside, Andrew and Renee alternated sampling and assisting; Karl was assigned to photograph their work (a clever strategy that keeps his mug out of the pictures). The team collected both water samples and bacteria samples, and took pictures at four stations. They looked for cave critters for the topside science team, with Renee finding a particularly large one (for a cave invertebrate) that was quickly named Ã¢â‚¬Å“ClydeÃ¢â‚¬Â (after Clive Cussler, no doubt).
DeLeon Springs is a very silty cave with moderate flow, but the team applied a new strategy for handling samples that they devised before the dive. Their new collecting protocol proved highly effective, so that they required less time to get the job done despite having bacteria samples to collect as well as water. The team surfaced after a 71 minute dive to a maximum depth of 61 feet.
Topside, the surface team conducted their water tests. Rima prepared the biomass samples for transport to NASA while Amy was responsible for the Hydrolab tests. After the tests were complete, everybody went to eat pancakes at the Sugar Mill at the springs. The Sugar Mill has the best pancakes and bacon in the world, so it was a fabulous end to a successful day.
Thanks to DeLeon Springs for access to the cave system for this important research. Thanks again to Seminole Scuba for providing air fills (and charming conversation during the filling) for the project.