End of “Gator Gullet”


Geology rocks!

Fossilized jaw bone

Beautiful newly discovered section

Joe and Renee discuss karst features

To Kelly Park we headed to tackle the cave at Rock Springs. It seemed like the flow had doubled over night but perhaps we were feeling the physical effects from Saturday. We were able to muster up the stamina necessary to do perform with success.

Meanwhile…back at the hammer…we turned left and made the journey through familiar passage, less familiar passage and soon into brand new passage. More of the same crunch, crunch, crunch via low passageways challenged us as we persevered. Andy’s safety spool came off and was quickly rolling past Renee in the low vis and high flow leaving dangerous loose line in its path. Renee secured the reel and stopped Andy to inform him of the situation. Once out of harms way we moved onward. Again, eye contact is rare in this section of the cave and all communication is done using fin tugs and hand signals. Andrew moved forward and Renee followed in the dust. We decided after the dive yesterday to not go to the existing end of the line, but to venture into a slightly higher passage above. This passage was small, too and we were again being hugged continuously by sharp, wet rocks. Chunks of ceiling were dropping down on us because our bubbles were the first to disturb it. This is called percolation. It can be a bit disturbing and also is expected on an exploration dive such as this one. Renee could hear a low pounding sound in the stillness while Andy was studying the passage ahead. Was someone drilling a well or chopping down a tree? Was it Renee’s heart? Something else’s heart?? After speaking with the park staff, it is still unclear as to what the sound was. Because water is much more dense than air, sound travels very quickly and it could have been coming from miles away. Regardless, there was some relief when the pounding stopped. Andy didn’t hear it but luckily it was captured during a video clip.

That passage, called “Gator Gullet” because of the obvious feature near the end, appeared to wall off quickly. We looked around at our surroundings and found a broken piece of crockery. On the bottom was written the word Eureka. Coincidence or providence? Andy looked down to the right and when he crawled down inside the opening he could feel massive amounts of flow. Neither of us was up to more, so we turned the dive surveying the newly placed 120 feet of line on the way out. This data will be compiled with the previous to update the map.

On the journey out through the smaller passages and restrictions (a place where 2 divers can not pass together) it became evident that Renee didn’t charge her battery long enough. Slowly the normally very bright HID light dimmed until suddenly she was in the dark. Cave divers are required to carry a minimum of three working lights. A back up light was easily accessed with only a brief pause taken so there was no crashing into something while in high flow darkness. The stage bottles were collected and we exited the cave after 174 minutes and a maximum depth of 20 feet.

After rinsing and putting gear in the truck, we drove around the park a bit with Joe Rotarius. He educated us more on karst activity in Kelly Park as he is always eager to do. We bid farwell to our Kelly Park friends until next time. Thank you again for allowing us access and for your kindness. We are honored to be part of your educational efforts. Seminole Scuba graciously donated gas fills for the team again for this ongoing project. Thank you Laura!!

Andrew Pitkin
Rhiannon Pitkin
Renee Power

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