All Aboard!!

Gary, the Grouper!

Church Cave

Look out belowwwwwww!!!

The spelunkers go spelunking!

Gilligan Giguere

Mr. Smetana aboard the Topaz II

After a leisurely breakfast and bidding farewell to Karl, the first item on today’s agenda was a visit to Church Cave, a dry cave system in Hamilton Parish, Bermuda. The dry caving team included Betsy, Amy, Rima, Bob, Renee, Annie, Tom, Gil, Jen, His Excellency Governor Vereker and Jason, his driver. In addition, Jack Ward, Head of Conservation Services, met with us for part of the tour. Tom led the group though a dense section of Bermudian jungle to the mouth of the cave. The climb down into the cave was pretty intense, and involved scrambling over several boulders and slippery ledges. At the bottom, we were rewarded with a magnificent view that included several stalactites and a bright blue cave pool. To continue our exploration, we took turns using a small boat paddling back to the dark recesses of the cave. In addition to several more speleothems, we were also intrigued by the wreckage of a small boat at the bottom of the pool. The pool is spectacular plunging down to a depth of about 70 feet. The divers had their HID cave diving lights with them for better illumination of the cave. Dropping the light heads into the water gave the water a bluish appearance casting shadows from the rocks beneath the boat. After a bit more climbing about, the team exited just in time to get His Excellency to the next important event on his agenda. (We are excited to note that the last governor that visited Church Cave did so about 130 years ago with candles as his source of illumination!!)

After a quick change out of muddy caving clothes, we said goodbye to Betsy and the team switched gears and arrived at the main harbor in Hamilton to join the Smetanas aboard their 44 foot Hinckley. For the rest of the afternoon we cruised around the inland waters of Bermuda while enjoying a delicious lunch. The breeze was fresh and the conversation flowed from science to culture. A squall moved in during our three hour tour, and we wondered who of the crew and passengers would best serve as Gilligan should we land on a deserted island.

On our way back from the cruise, we stopped by the Bermuda Aquarium for a quick tour. It is located in the picturesque village of Flatts and is a beautiful facility! We returned to the cottages in time to change clothes again and head to Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute for our second evening presentation. The lecture went well, and the auditorium was nearly full. We enjoyed another lovely dinner at La Coquille before heading to bed. The morning will be coming all to soon…time to pack!

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

My “thank you” goes to not only the volunteers, but to Mr. and Mrs. Smetana and all the other sponsors. It is so nice to know people care enough about the health of our world above and below the water!!!! Thanks for all your hard work!!!

Linda (Amy’s Mom)

Hi Mom,
Thanks for your email. Yes, we are very grateful to the many sponsors who have contributed to this expedition and made it a very worthwhile and successful project. It sounds like we are off to a great start and a dedicated commitment to cave conservation in Bermuda!! See you soon!

Hey team!
Sitting at my desk missing all the action – thanks for the awesome daily reports and fun photos!
Congrats to Terrence and Allison on little tyke on the way.
Will you be creating a program of your trip?
When you say marine influenced, is it tidal or only during periods of high water/low water?
Are withdrawals (such as for human consumption) making any changes in the water chemistry of the caves on the island?
Take care and stay away from the spiders!
Sandy Poucher

Hi Sandy,
Thanks for your note and for following along with us!! Yes, we have already created a program for this trip and have done several lectures and presentations during our stay here in Bermuda.

Good question – they are marine-influenced, and in fact, they are full of marine life! The divers keep talking about how different it is from the freshwater systems we work elsewhere in the world. Interestingly enough, people in Bermuda get their drinking water from the rain, so not much is withdrawn for human consumption; however, other pressures related to development, etc. put a strain on their water resources.

As for the spiders…well, I haven’t seen very many.

Hope to see you soon, and hopefully you’ll be in Bermuda with us next time!!
Take care,

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