The Exploration Continues

Climbing down into the water

Divers prepare to push forward

Terrence heads into the flow

Diver meets critter

The day was centered around Rock Spring and finishing the sample collection and data gathering. Once again, the dive team split into two groups – Terrence and Andrew went to the limits of the current exploration lines and Renee, Bob and Rhiannon remained nearer the entrance. The primary purpose of the dive was to collect rock samples and details of each sampling site such as water flow, level of daylight, character and depth of substrate from the same sites as yesterday (see ‘Creature from the Black Cave’). A secondary purpose for both teams was to acquire more specific survey measurements for a detailed map to be drawn.

Terrence and Andrew entered the cave first, taking a stage bottle of extra air with them to enable them to explore the cave further. They first went to investigate the left-hand passage from which about 80% of the flow is coming. This is very low passage with very friable rock which makes it very difficult to make forward progress against the current. They pushed to the end of the line in a breakdown room where the water flow appeared to be coming down a vertical shaft. The problem was that just their bubbles dislodged a lot of debris in the shaft which was then blown back at them by the flow, reducing visibility to almost nothing. They felt it was not possible to progress any further without knowing what was going on in the breakdown area. They therefore just surveyed that small section of line and then checked out the Straight Ahead Passage. They added about 25 feet of line before the passage became too small to continue in side-mounted tanks. Rock samples were taken from both areas.

Renee, Bob and Rhiannon followed the first team into the cave. Their sample sites were relatively close to the entrance and so they were able to gather their data quickly. This left them free to gather accurate measurements of the cave size and the precise locations of any interesting cave formations. Renee sketched the cave formations and Bob and Rhiannon measured the appropriate dimensions. This was made more challenging by the formation sites being in areas of reasonable flow. These measurements will enable the team to relate their detailed survey information to previous work (see ‘Rock Springs Rocks’). Once this task was complete, they swum further into the cave to check and retrieve the crayfish trap placed by Bob and Rhiannon the day before. Unfortunately the cave crayfish are proving to be very elusive and the trap was, once again, empty.

The Cambrian Foundation would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their assistance and advice regarding the safe capture and transport of troglobitic organisms: Aaron L. Mills, Ph. D. of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; Tom Morris, cave biologist for Karst Environmental Services in High Springs, FL; Stephen P. Opsahl, Ph. D., Assistant Scientist at Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Newton, GA; and Richard Franz of the Florida Museum of Natural History and University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Team members

Amy Giannotti
Bob Giguere
Andrew Pitkin
Renee Power
Rhiannon Raggatt
Terrence Tysall

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