April 22

The Cambrian Foundation’s 2001 Akumal Team

Team 2 poses after the dive with some empty reels

Speleothems grace the ceiling of Sistema Camilo.

A ghostly column stands guard.

Columns heading towards the Lemley Room

Cylinder after Cylinder…

Another New Cenote Discovered

Sunday, April 22, 2001 –
Bright and early Sunday morning, the entire Akumal 2001 dive team posed for a group photo prior to today’s dive operations and the departure of Renee and Thecia. The entire team would like to thank Renee and Thecia for their participation. They will be sorely missed.

Team 2, consisting of George McCulley, Mark Corkery, and Terrence Tysall proceeded downstream (carrying 4 cylinders) to explore what is now named the Cave Fish Tunnel. Prior to the start of their dive, Team 2 had no idea that they would return from their 3 hour dive having discovered a new and very large cenote that they christened the Cenote of the Coati-mundi. This was the obvious choice as when the team surfaced at the remote site a large Coati-mundi was seen to be watching the team. When they yelled out in their excitement about the new Cenote the creature beat a hasty retreat, much to Mark and Terrence’s relief (be sure to read last year’s update; when animals attack). The final figures had the team exploring and surveying more than 1,900 feet of cave passage.

Nearly everywhere divers explore in Sistema Camilo they encounter formations of every description. Speleothems are formations that occur in caves such as Stalactites (the formations resembling icicles hanging from the ceiling), Stalagmites (the rounded formations directly under a stalactite), and Flowstone
(sheets of calcium carbonate that look like a rock or boulder that has partially melted).

When over many thousands of years a Stalactite and a Stalagmite slowly grow to meet one another they will eventually form a column (a continuous calcium carbonate growth from floor to ceiling that resembles a Gothic spire). The team has encountered some columns that are over 20 – 30 feet in diameter. All of these formations are born one drop of water at a time!

Team 1, consisting of Andy Peterson and Mike St. Germain, headed upstream to allow Mike time to acclimatize to the cave and it’s many unique passages. The mission for this dive was to search for sidewall passages just inside the Lemley room. The team believes there could be a major undiscovered passage in this area due to the large nature of the cave and higher flow. Team 1 dropped their stage bottles at the mouth of the Lemley room and dropped down into Angel’s Halo for a quick look at the fabulous Salt Water Halocline. As the team approached the end of Angel’s room, Andy experienced a primary light failure and the team called the dive. Team 1 exited in reverse order as to allow for Andy to be in the lead and Mike providing the primary source of light for the exit. After Team 1 retrieved their stage bottles, they made an uneventful return to the cavern where they finished their dive with a 5 minute decompression stop.

“No matter how many times I go in there, it never ceases to amaze me” Moving through the halocline In Angel’s Halo Room is something out of a science fiction novel. The water shimmers like a mirage on a highway, everything becomes blurred. As you follow another diver, the water seems to part around him, forming a slow motion jet-like turbulence in his wake. A minute or two later and the two layers of water are once again separated. You can touch the halocline with your hand and watch the ripples move out like waves on a pond. It’s just amazing…

After the dive, Mike takes some time to reflect back on his first dive in Sistema Camilo: “The formations in the Mexico caves are an incredible sight with unparalleled beauty. It’s truly an awesome feeling to explore a place where no human has ever ventured.”

Cave diving is a very specialized form of diving that requires unique and durable dive equipment. The Cambrian Foundation wishes to thank Dive Rite for their continued support for without their generosity our exploratory activities would be much more difficult.

The one down side to the expedition is the logistical hassle of the many cylinders that must be moved each day. It is an everyday chore, haul cylinders in for the dive and haul them out. It never ends!!

Dive Team:
George McCulley
Mark Corkery
Andy Peterson
Mike St. Germain
Renee Power
Terrence Tysall

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