New Experiences and New Stations

The walk through

George and Andy collect bacteria samples

George enters the cave

Andy prepares a substation

Sulfur Oxidizing Bacteria in Wekiwa

Kris and Ricky prepare the station markers

Today’s location was Wekiwa Springs, where our mission was two-fold. The first goal of our mission was to collect and analyze water samples from five different stations in the cave at Wekiwa as well as samples from the mouth of the cave. Our second goal was to collect bacterial mats from several pre-existing biomass sample sub sites at three stations in the cave. This was done so that Rima could return to the lab and analyze the bacteria as well as estimate a growth rate based on previous bacterial collection at the same sub sites. To do this, the dive team planned two dives to collect the necessary samples. They also added some new biomass sample sites at each of the three stations, including two new sub-sites at all three stations and one repair at station three.

The water analyses performed were the same as yesterday’s, and yielded consistent results. The water analysis process is moving faster now that the team has some experience with all of the different tests.

Ricky, in order to help ferry water samples from the cave mouth to the surface team had to use a side-mount setup. Before he could do this, however, he had to perform a check-out dive with George. He did this early in the day and was a great help with the mission.

Bob and Tom spent most of the day in the water, taking video, from the open water, of the divers entering the cave and the general underwater topography in the spring. They exited the water for a short time and took some video of the water analysis process before reentering the water and continuing with the more exciting video footage.

Prior to entering the water, a walk through was conducted with both the science and dive teams to review the various tasks and work out who would perform them. Andy, George, and Renee slipped into the chilly Wekiwa basin, secured their no mount rig and slid themselves one by one into the entrance restriction. A no mount configuration is used here due to the restrictive passages. The tank is rigged with necessary gear and pushed ahead of the diver. Renee and George quickly got busy collecting water samples at station number one in the cavern. Andy took photos and did a quick survey for substations and bacterial growth. Once station one was completed, George passed off the samples to Ricky who was waiting in the open water at the entrance and he took them to the surface. Andy and Renee then proceeded through the Shark’s Fin Restriction to collect water samples from stations two through five. The same shuttling sequence took place handing George the samples through the restriction and he would in turn give them to Ricky.

The team returned to the surface for to warm up and hydrate a bit during the debriefing. The same three divers then returned to the water to gather bacterial samples, the second goal of the day. Stations one, three and five each currently have three substations. Two more were added at each of these making a total of 15 substations. At each of these marked sites, any visible bacterial mat is scraped off a defined area of cave wall into a special collection bag so that the nature and rate of bacterial growth in each part of the cave can be measured. The divers’ impression was that not much bacterial growth had occurred at most of the sites, but we will need to wait for full analysis of the samples to get a definitive answer.

This was George’s first real no mount experience and he found that it felt freeing not having all of the equipment on. This dive time was 88 minutes with a maximum depth of 45 feet.

Thank you Wekiwa Springs State Park for allowing us access so we can continue to understand this area we all want to see preserved.

Don’t for get to click on Trilobite to ask the team a question or offer a comment!

Team Members:
Rima Franklin
Bob Giguere
David Hurley
Katy Marston
Melanie Masessa
George McCulley
Andrew Pitkin
Tom Postel
Renee Power
Kris Shannon
Ricky Simon
Don Zoecklein

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