Admiral’s Cave … Monsters!

Mr. Jack Ward, Director of Conservation Services

Role reversal – the camera turns on BOB!!!

Brian and Naste negotiate a mysterious line

Karl explains how to construct a stick map

Naste descends into Admiral’s

Gil leads us on a tour of Admiral’s

This morning started out with us all meeting at the boys’ villa for breakfast and to pack the gear needed for the dry cave workshop. Then it was off to Shelly Bay Park to begin the workshop with the student volunteers from Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo (BAMZ). Four student volunteers joined us for the workshop and were very excited to be learning some line drills in the park. It was definitely a new experience for these students and they were eager to learn as much as they could. Renee and Amy started off the workshop with a discussion of the skills needed to communicate underwater. The young volunteers were taught a variety of hand signals commonly used while diving that they would be using later in the day.

Gil and Jen then demonstrated some techniques for navigating along a line. The students were shown how to maintain contact with the line and travel along the line together in a “lights out” situation. After that, it was the students’ turn to travel down the line and practice their own communication skills. They had a great time with this challenge, even though the cave monsters (Amy, Betsy and Gil) were very mischievous and threw in entanglements, extra lines, loose lines and other hassles that a cave diver might encounter. The two teams did a fantastic job reaching the end of the line despite these challenges.

After a quick lunch break, Karl became the professor, and taught the surveying techniques used in submerged cave surveys. To simulate the challenges encountered by underwater cave surveyors, the students were allowed to use only hand signals for communication during the survey. They worked together in the park to practice these new skills before heading over the Admiral’s Cave.

Most of the group had never stepped foot into a cave before, especially one as big as Admiral’s! Before the survey began, a short tour was given by Gil and the students were shown many different cave formations. Gil ended his tour with a demonstration of how dark a cave is without lights. The students all turned off their lights and they couldn’t even see their hand inches from their own face. The lights were turned back on, and the surveying began. Like divers, the students couldn’t use vocal communications while surveying. It was a bit rough at first for the students to eliminate talking from their communication skills. But after a couple stations, these four individuals began working as a team and were sailing through the survey stations. There was a short debriefing, and then another tour. Gil was an excellent tour guide as he had the most knowledge of the system. The students were very eager to see and explore the cave. We all made the message of conservation and protection of the caves very clear and important.

After a full day of teaching, the team took a quick break for tasty treats at a local ice cream shoppe. We then returned to the villa to O2 clean tanks for tomorrow. When the tanks were clean, Betsy and Jen cooked a delicious dinner and everyone worked on the dive plan for tomorrow. After dinner, Dr. Tom Illife and Paul Larrett came over to swap ideas and further discuss the plan for tomorrow.

Let’s take the time to highlight our Bermuda Liaison Officer, Gil Nolan (sorry Gil, we meant to do this yesterday). Gil has been instrumental in organizing and arranging the logistics for this project. He is married to Pam, a Bermudian, and they recently moved from Boston back to Bermuda, where Pam was raised. Gil is an computer engineer in real-life.

Today, we would like to feature Mr. Jack Ward. Jack is the Director of Conservation Services for the Bermudian government. He is the person making it possible for us to transport samples of water and bacteria back to the United States for analyses.

We would like to thank Dr. Anne Glasspool for her hard work in helping put today’s events in motion, the students who participated in the dry cave workshop and Gil Nolan for all of his help and hard work. Bob spent the day filming our workshop to document the experience for the kids.

Team Members

  • Jen Cate
  • Rima Franklin, Ph.D.
  • Amy Giannotti
  • Bob Giguere
  • Anne Glasspool, Ph.D.
  • Betsy Hackley
  • Tom Iliffe, Ph.D.
  • Gil Nolan
  • Renee Power
  • Karl Shreeves
  • Bernie Szukalski
  • Terrence Tysall
  • Jack Ward

Questions/Comments from the Trilobite


I hope you didn’t crash on the scooter.
We don’t need anymore accidents around here.
I enjoy seeing the pictures, and reading about whats going on there.
Be SAFE !!!!

Tracey & Shawn

Hi Tracey and Shawn,
Renee has moved on to bigger and better modes of transportation – namely a car! Thanks for keeping up with us!
Amy (and Renee)

Hey Cambrian Team!
You guys are doing great things there! What a memorable experience for the kids! The Human ROV on the DIVING is great, but a Human ROV that follows your DRIVING would be even more memorable. And perhaps we’d win some money from America’s Funniest Home Videos. You mentioned that this is the first time you’ve used the Human ROV in an anchialine system. What does “anchialine” mean? You also mentioned that the organisms in the Bermuda saltwater caves are very different from what you usually see in freshwater systems. How so?
Have fun and keep the updates coming! Congratulations on your successful project so far!

Jill Aller

Hi Jill! Thanks for writing!! Anchialine caves are caves that are influenced in some significant way by salt water. We’ll let you know more about the organisms after the familiarization dive today, but so far we have seen sponges and many kinds of tunicates, hydroids, etc. encrusting the lines and the walls. We don’t see this many species in freshwater systems, typically. Keep writing to us! It is good to hear from you!


Looks like you guys are having a blast and doing great work! Do different groups of students show up daily? Do you stay primarily at one dive site or do you travel to different caves on the island?

BIG NEWS ON THE HOMEFRONT!! I couldn’t wait until you guys got back to share this — I’m pregnant again! Can you believe that?! TJ and his sibling won’t even be a year and half apart…how insane this is going to be for a little while (both in diapers, both in cribs!!) but we’re excited. I just found out yesterday and waited to tell anyone until I heard from Terrence last night. He was beyond thrilled!

Keep up the good work and I’ll see you guys (most of you guys!) when you return!

Allison 🙂

Hi Allison,

Thanks for your note and congratulations! Yes, two kids that close together will be like flying two kites in a hurricane, I would imagine. I feel that way, and mine are 32 months apart. We are diving one system, Green Bay System, but we are accessing it from two different entrances. Today we will dive out of the Green Bay entrance, but earlier in the week, we entered from Cliff Pool. We are working with students from two different high schools and then also some students who are volunteers at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo.


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