March 27

The center of Allison’s Room.

A gaggle of regulators.

Thanks for all the hard work.

Exploration continues.

Thursday, 27 March 2003
Therese prepared french toast as we began to prepare for our day. This is going to be the last big diving day of the expedition as Friday will be a light day due to air travel on Saturday.

Team 1, George, Nat, and Renee had a mission to swim upstream and explore the possible cenote sighting from a previous day. Their dive took them from Cenote Camilo upstream into Allison’s Room, named after Terrence’s wife. Allison’s Room is a highly decorated room that is a creamy white color. It’s so beautiful and fragile inside that it seems almost sacred. The team of 3 was very careful as they passed through. On the other side of Allison’s Room is Allison’s Passage. This passage is equally beautiful but in a different sort of way. Nat led the team down the passage that certainly had variety along its winding traverse. Portions of the area were decorated yet more dark than in Allison’s Room. Much of it was “tubular” in shape with large breakdown areas spread out along the passage. The team had staged 2 tanks before coming to the area of the possible cenote. This area was low and the team only wanted to take 2 tanks in order to help preserve the cave. After winding up through a rather silty area, George and Renee were put on hold while Nat went to the end of the line to investigate. The water depth at that point was 10 feet according to his computer! There was plenty of greenish, tanic water, but no light could be seen. Large chunks of limestone were breaking free due to the exhaust bubbles, so the team thought it best to turn and leave the area. On the way back to Camilo, they explored several passages that each looped back to the main line. Next year, the team looks forward to probing this area further for leads.

Team 2, Mike and Andy entered at Carri’s Loft and headed upstream. We had several missions. First we deployed the current meter in an area just downstream from a large room to measure the speed of water flow (between Carri’s Loft and the Denial Line). The recent rains have significantly increased the current in many areas of the cave making the exploration much more interesting than in the past. Our second mission was to explore upstream in an area called The Loft where yesterday Mike saw some tanic water. We were hoping to find a cenote but were not successful. It is thought the tanic water in this area is simply leaching through the thin layer of very porous limestone, a few more years and it just might become a cenote. Our third mission was to gather some water samples from the Carrie’s Loft area, these samples will be analyzed upon return to the US. During our decompression we explored the rather large cavern area at Carri’s loft before exiting through the small surface opening. Thanks to Magic Screen Graphics (see sponsor page) who donated the screen-printing on the Cambrian Foundation wetsuit!

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

Hey Andy, We’ve been reading about the cave exploration, it sounds great. Hope you are having a great time. Ben was very interested in the blind cave fish you mentioned. Take care. Peg and Fred

Fred, Peg and the gang,
Thanks for keeping up with us. The blind cave fish are amazing! Their long dorsal fin and tail are almost iridescent when you shine a light on them. Amazing animals!

Hi Michael,
This is exciting to hear that you are diving right now. If I knew of an appropriate question, I would ask, but I really do not know what you are doing. Just diving into deep water caves causes me GREAT concern since I do not put my head under water if it can be avoided in any way. Uncle Tooter tells people that I will not even put my head under the shower head is an overkill, but I do not enjoy swimming sure enough not in deep water.

I do appreciate knowing that you are enjoying your exciting hobby. I know your family enjoys that together too. That is wonderful. So if you can explain your project in words that I can understand, I would love it just because you are involved. Have a wonderful trip. We Love you.
Aunt Delores

Aunt Delores,
Great to hear from you!. For me, the most exciting part of cave exploration is going where no person has ever gone before….knowing that you are the first human to ever lay eyes on this section of cave! The caves in Mexico are spectacular and very highly decorated (not to mention they are full of troglobites….cave adapted species that you just don’t see unless you visit the caves). The project is coming to a close and we have had a great year….thanks for the email and give my love to the family.

Good Morning. I have been following your progress and really enjoying all the happenings. And want you to know I appreciate you taking time to do this, with all the daily things you must have to do. What is average or general depth that you are diving? or does it just vary a lot? The dives seem to be 2-3 hours each – it that right? (with decompression after that of about 30+ minutes. ) I would be very interested in knowing what effects the diving stress has on the body. I hope there will be a report. That would make all of that spitting really worthwhile. Looking forward to today’s report of yesterdays activities. Thanks so much for this feature of reporting your progress.
Marlene Hopkins

Thanks so much for following along! Yes, there are tons of things to do everyday to get ready for the next. The updates we do are very important to us as we desire to keep people informed of the expedition progress. Let us know how we could improve them!! The deepest depth we have encountered thus far is 86 feet found yesterday by Nat and George in a deep hole. The average depth is around 65 feet. I suppose so far the depth range is 10 feet to 86 feet inside the cave itself. The dives ARE usually 2-4 hours long. However, they sometimes extend longer. The decompression obligation has been significantly reduced due to the gas-switchable computers we are using. We’ve noticed that the deco time is reduced by about a third. This is critical since thermal issues can contribute to decompression sickness. Most of us are a little chilly (I’m freezing!) at the end of each dive. Some of us are using the chemical heat packs during deco to help with that. You can refer to previous Akumal expeditions on our website and you will see much longer decompression times without the switchable computers. We have been amazed! We are interested in the stress, too. I’ve really paid attention this year to what causes me to stress. These things are fairly consistent as I have documented on my cortisol questionnaire. The results will be posted on our website as we get them from the scientists. The spitting was strange at first, but now it’s a bonding thing in an odd sort of way!
Thanks again for your interest!! Please search our site for upcoming expeditions in the U.S.!!

Hi my name is Robbie. I am in Dr. Albright’s class at Maitland Middle School. I have a question for you — What is the most dangerous animal that you have seen in those caves? Thanks!

Believe it or not, the most dangerous animal in the caves is probably US!! Those cute little isopods couldn’t harm a fly (unless isopods were to eat flies!). Think about it…one diver equipped with 4 heavy metal scuba tanks, hoses, fins, arms and legs can do a lot of damage to a cave. Also, divers maintain awareness of depth, time and psi (amount of air in tank). If this is not managed properly then danger to the diver is possible. Equipment can fail and THAT has to be dealt with! It’s very important to remain aware during a cave dive!

If you are going again next year, I am thinking of joining you. I couldn’t be much help with the diving, and I’m not too great a carrying heavy things anymore, but I could help with breakfast! Bob (Andy’s father-in-law)

We seem to have less interest in the breakfast cook job as the expedition wears on. If we stay another week we will likely need the help.

Hi our names are Ashley and Jennifer. We are students at Maitland Middle school in Dr. Albright’s science class:
~ Have you found any predator-prey interactions in the caves?
~ What is an example of a predator-prey interaction that you have seen in the caves?

Ashley and Jennifer,
Yes! We actually saw an amphipod eating a shrimp…or what was left of one!

When ya’ll are done there, they could use some help in Baghdad. There’s a swim thru from the Euphrates straight to Saddam’s personal hot tub. Maybe you could “pop in” and talk him out of his wmd’s.. that, or convince him to try cave diving?? What ya think love.

Sounds like a good plan to me…. 🙂

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