Otters and Isopods…Oh My!!!

Laura at Seminole Scuba

Marissa analyzes water samples

Rima and Melanie test for organic carbons

“Dali Pendants”

Bob collecting samples

Let’s go isopoding!!

Today’s destination was Rock Springs at Kelly Park, where the team’s goal was to collect water samples, bacteria and critters from within the cave. The dive team took samples from four different areas of the cave as well as the mouth of the cave. The surface team then ran the usual tests on the samples.

Several divers penetrated the cave for the first time today. Ricky and Bob, who have yet to sample with the Cambrian Foundation, entered the cave first with Renee and Andy. Ricky, Bob and Renee collected the samples from sites one and two, while Andy photographed. At that point, the four divers moved toward the back of the cave where Renee and Andy went to station 4 in the tunnel left. About twenty minutes after the first group, George, Sandy and Mike entered the cave. They made the journey up the straight ahead passage to take samples from site three. This was also Sandy and Mike’s first time sampling with the Cambrian Foundation. In addition to the samples collected, the team collected isopods from the cave. They survived the bottling unscathed and will be sent to specialists for identification. It was noted that the flow inside the cave was much less than on previous expeditions which made the traverse much more enjoyable.

On the surface all the tests went well, revealing results consistent with previous samplings at Rock Springs. There are still no sulfides or iron present. The nitrates reveal a curious trend; they exist at a concentration of approximately one part per million at the cave’s entrance, but increase to 1.5 parts per million inside the cave. This may be due to consumption of the critters living within the cave.

While the divers where entering the cave Tom took some video of the action. Then when Ricky and Bob emerged from the cave, Bob, Tom and Katy took a snorkel trip down the run to shoot some footage of the wildlife and environment. Katy spotted a river otter, twice, but unfortunately Tom was not able to capture the encounter on tape. Katy was allowed to shoot some footage with Tom’s camera, which she thought was pretty awesome.

After the team finished up at the spring, everyone headed over to Seminole Scuba for gas fills. Thank you again to Laura and the team for donating our fills and being so kind! Once the tanks were dropped off, the team walked over to Firehouse Subs and was joined by Amy, her brand new baby Maron, and Linda (Amy’s Mom) for lunch.

Thank you to the folks at Kelly Park for allowing us access yet again to continue our ongoing work.

Email us with questions at

Hi All
My questions are somewhat basic – what will the growth rate (or not, for that matter) of bacterial samples show you? And assuming that they have changed significantly, what effects will that have on the cave system? And are those changes necessarily detrimental. Hope you’re all having an interesting time, say hi to my bro for me.

Hi Sue,
I’m not the expert here, but as I understand it the bacteria in the cave are the foundation for its entire ecosystem. Rather than being plants photosynthesizing food from sunlight, these bacteria are chemosynthesizing, that is, manufacturing food using energy they get from chemicals (such as sulphur or iron compounds) in the water. Larger organisms feed on these bacteria, and so it goes on, up the food chain. The rate of growth of the bacteria is a big unknown, because we have no idea what the equilibrium is between the amount of (potential) chemical food in the water and the bacteria that are living from it, and of course their predators. Some caves have more bacteria in them than others, and measuring how fast the bacteria grow is an essential part of understanding why that is.

It’s all very interesting. Rima will be along to correct me in a minute.

Hey to Renee, Bob, Ricky and the rest of the team whom I have not had the pleasure to meet. Hope your water sampling is going well. I’ll be checking your updates. Thanks for the e-mail letting me know you were in an active project. I’m sending you good vibes from Farmville and Fuqua and I hope to be able to work with some of you again in the field in the near future!
Love, Dora

Hi Dora! We miss you very much and we wish you were here and we feel your vibes!
The Team

Team Members:
Rima Franklin
Bob Giguere
David Hurley
Katy Marston
Melanie Masessa
George McCulley
Randy Munro
Andrew Pitkin
Tom Postel
Michael Poucher
Sandy Poucher
Renee Power
Kris Shannon
Ricky Simon
Marissa Williams
Don Zoecklein

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