April 23

A jungle walk with 45+ pounds

Line Arrows installed the newly discovered Cenote

George stages equipment at the Cenote Coati-mundi

Mark, George and Terrence at Cenote Coati-mundi

The team starts exploring the Coati-mundi Cenote

Blind cave fish – adapted to it’s environment

Sistema Camilo Never Ceases To Amaze

Monday, April 23, 2001 –
You’ve got to love it. We begin the day at 0630 and make a quick breakfast. Next we prepare our gear for transport, by 0800, we’re loading tanks onto a flat bed truck and securing our gear into the van. At 0830 five divers and the supporting muchachos are on our way to the site. Twenty-five minutes later were bouncing along a narrow dirt road with branches and twigs scraping down the side of the van like fingernails on a chalkboard. We’re at the site. We form a daisy chain of people thirty feet long and begin transferring 15 to 18 tanks in the staging area (three to four tanks per diver.) Then the long hike begins!

By the time we arrive at the Cenote Camilo, we have dehydrated ourselves significantly. It is then necessary to begin hydrating our bodies to avoid decompression sickness and prevent cramping during the dive. We’re usually in the water by 10:00 AM or so. Today, Terrence, George and Mark will probably emerge sometime close to 1:00 PM.

Swimming for almost an hour finds the team in large cave passage when a brilliant point of blue light appears in the distance. It is always special to discover a new cenote, but this one was even more so due to the ease of exit. It was so simple to just swim out the large opening. To give you an idea of the scale, this picture was taken approximately 100 feet from the entrance. No matter how wonderful a dive may be it is still a welcome site to see glorious sunlight filtering down from a surface opening.

Line arrows were the first piece of dive equipment to ever be mass produced specifically for cave diving. They point the way to the nearest accessible exit. In this case they act as additional survey markers and identify the team and the organization conducting the survey.

George crouches as he leaves the water. Behind him are the tanks that the team used to gain access to the Cenote. They are staged and ready to enter the water for the near hour swim home.

Due to the large size of the new cenote the team decided to exit the water and explore the area on foot. The opening behind the team is where we arrived at the cenote yesterday and saw the Coati-mundi. We then set up the camera and took a picture of ourselves.

After the lengthy swim George, Mark, and Terrence began exploring the perimeter of the site in the hopes of finding more surface openings that may lead to more cave passage. While we explored the site a pair of Spider Monkeys watched us from the safety of the trees. It was quite an experience to have our simian friends monitoring our activities. As we strolled on the ground they traveled from tree to tree overhead.

A troglobitic animal is an animal that has completely adapted for life in the cave environment such as the Blind Cave Fish. This animal has no eyes as quite obviously there is no need for eyes if there is no light. They are also completely white since color has no meaning in a lightless world. The term troglobitic means cave dweller whereas the term troglophile means cave lover. The Blind Cave Fish permanently lives in the cave as opposed to a troglophilic organism which visits or lives in the cave some of the time such as the many catfish we see in the natural light areas of the cenotes of Sistema Camilo.

Team 1 consisted of Mike St. Germain and a Andy Peterson. Using a single stage bottle each, they went upstream into the Lemley room to explore side wall passages. After dropping the stage bottles at the entrance to the Lemely room, Mike took about 5 minutes to investigate a bedding plan on the right hand side of the cave (we will revisit this area at a later date). About halfway through the Lemley Room, Mike investigated a decent size tunnel to the right and Andy secured his survey reel to an existing station. Mike gave Andy the honors and they swam into unsurveyed cave passage with Mike double checking the tie-offs along the way. After nearly 200 feet, the team turned encountered a halocline corridor. Shortly, thereafter, it looked like the tunnel was closing down to a point where back mounted doubles wasn’t practical, so the team decided to retrieve the line, rather than survey it back out. We marked the main line for a future survey. Total dive for team one, 93 minutes with 21 minutes of deco.

It’s a strange sight; seeing divers emerge from the blackness, each carrying four cylinders. They almost look like machines, powered by silver tubes tucked under their arms. As the divers approach, I give the leader an okay gesture and I’m always relieved to get an okay in return. As Terrence, Mark and George remove their stage bottles, I free dive down and carry them to the surface where Mike pulls them from the water. We’ve got six stages to secure. I communicate a question: how much deco do you have? The answer: 61 minutes. We’ve got a little wait ahead.

Sometimes the decompression obligation following the dive can get significant. This leads to finding interesting things to do with your time. In 15 feet of water, and laying flat on his back, Terrence creates funky bubble rings to pass the time. What can be said about that?

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

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