March 23

Cenote Raphael with new bridge for easier entry.

George takes water sample near cave floor.

Renee and George communicating data during survey.

George on the Raphael Line.

Mike “helping” Renee exit Cenote Raphael.

Moving and Video Day.

Sunday, 23 March 2003
This morning we had pancakes by Mr. Henderson to fuel the team up for the day. We then proceeded with our normal morning routine of spiting in a little tube, filling out a survey and packing up for the day’s dive. Then it was down stairs to load up the truck with tanks and the van with gear and head off to the jungle.

Today’s mission was two fold. First, we needed to remove all our gear from Cenote Mud and break down the camp that had been our home for the first half of this year’s expedition. A couple of trips up and down the trail, a bit of clean up, and it was done. The second part of our mission for the day was to get some of the underwater video shots on our shot list taken care of. The plan was to do this from Cenote Rafael which is at the trail head to Cenote Mud. Fortunately, at this site we can back the trucks full of gear nearly right up to the cenote!

The entire team went in for the first video dive and was divided into two sub-groups. Mike on Camera, Andy on primary lighting and directing, and Nat on fill lighting and gofer went in first. Following closely behind were George and Renee as the talent. "As my first dive in this part of the system, I was quite impressed by the decoration and color of the cave. It is the most amazing I have seen so far. The rooms are very large and have huge columns and lots of stalactites", Nat had to say about today’s dive. We entered via a new wooden bridge that extends about 2/3 of the way across the cenote. The end of it is in about 4 feet of water, with a silt bottom. This is not the black/brown substance created from rotting vegetation that we are used to dealing with in Cenote Mud.

The entrance to the this portion of the cave, though small, is much easier to negotiate than Cenote Mud. The bottom composition is a lighter, finer sediment that stays floating in the water column longer due to it’s light weight. Once about 250 feet inside the cave it turned beautiful! The entire cave is filled with white formations. Many of the formations are very large while others are not. The ceiling is full of decorations while the floor is covered in Calcite Rafting (see glossary). It is absolutely pristine!

During the video shoot, 2 playful Isopods danced around before the camera. They were a delight to observe coming in and out of the halocline. Unfortunately, and sometimes typical of video day, we had some equipment failures. Most were resolved, but the team will complete another video day in Sistema Camilo this week. After a very long day, the team returned to Villa De Rosas for another fabulous meal followed by prep for tomorrow. On tomorrow’s update look for exciting scenes from the long hike into Sistema Camilo!!

A huge thank you to the NSS/CDS and NACD (see sponsor page) for supporting us during our Akumal expedition. You have helped make this all possible!

Expedition Team:
Andy Henderson
George McCulley
Therese McCulley
Renee Power
Nat Robb
Michael St.Germain
Thecia Taylor

Send questions or comments to the Trilobite.

Questions and Comments To the Trilobite

Your bio says you are a boat captain, maybe you can continue the "local outreach" and give them a few pointers. Your globe trotting is truly amazing, keep up the good work!
Your old friend- Britt

Great to hear from you. The "captain" as fired immediately after swimming ashore from sinking the boat, so I don’t think we will be able to help here… One more week to go.
Nat 🙂

Hi, Team!
Just a little note to let you know that I got home ok…though my luggage did not! (yet, at least) That whole "getting rid of the ‘stuff’ in your life" thing is getting a little ridiculous!! First my dive gear, now my clothes….but I still have my CAMERA!!!!! ; )
I missed my connection in Miami, but at least the plane didn’t capsize…
Therese and Thecia, thanks for the great chauffer job today–its good we went when we did–the line at the airport was humongous–all those spring-breakers, I guess. It took almost 2 hours to get to the gate!
Hope today went great–I miss you all thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much!!! (Eat some pico and ‘scream for me!)
P.S. Andy: Mac, Grits and I all send kisses! xxxxxxxoooooooooooooo

Mike and Team
Things seem to continue to move along. Really am sorry to hear about the equipment loss in the ocean. That’s a bad deal.
Renee: I would assume that the degree of post dive dehydration has a bit to do with the frothy spit for post dive samples. Less fluid to work up a good solid sample. Try a swig of water to get your juices working then do the sample (exercise a short delay after the swig of water).
Mike: Do take care of that ear. Clear very early and often. Infections have a way of making the tissue more fragile and more suceptable to rupture.
Look forward to reading about the filming adventure tomorrow.

Thanks Thom! Will give that a try. Have YOU tried spitting in one of those vials??? It’s not easy, although there does seem to be various methods that are efficient if you are interested in a little side study!

Dr. Skalko,
Thanks for the advice…the ear is much better and did not give me any problems today during out two hour+ dives.
Regards and thanks…Mike

We have been following along for the past 7 days or so and have read everything on the website. Although we don’t fully understand most things about the mission, we do understand one thing indeed. You guys are some very talented and brave individuals and I applaud your dedication and efforts.
Now my questions, (1) If there are approx. 30,000 linear feet of mapped passages …. Would you dare to give a guess about much remains to be explored? (2) Can you clarify … how many surface access points are there in the areas that you are mapping?
Tell everyone that we are praying for a successful expedition, see you when you get home. Rubber side down! God Bless.
Ron, Jan & Scott Barbee Lexington NC

Ron, Jan and Scott,
Absolutely no clue how much bigger this cave is. Most of the surveyed passage is "trunk passage" we have not began to explore the small side passages that loop back into the main passages, there will be literally thousands of feet of that. We are currently looking only for passage that helps us determine the size and scope of this system. There are currently seven openings to the surface in the system. We would prefer to have more (strategically located) because some of the areas we have been exploring this week are more than three quarters of a mile from the nearest opening. Look forward to seeing y’all when we return.
Regards, Andy

Hi! Me again…
Everybody here keeps asking me 2 questions:
1) How come you didn’t say what Andy made for breakfast?
2) Are the other people in the picture with Nan in the jungle lifting her up (can’t see feet), or has she found munchkin-land where everybody is as short as she is?
: ) Nan

Andy cooked pancakes, No one knows why Nan’s short!! Lack of fertilizer?

"Nothing is Impossible with God!"
Luke 1:37

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