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Friday, June 07, 2013

Cave diving - the thrill of the deep

Photo: Marco Busdraghi
Cave diving is a special variety of diving that is often associated with high potential risks. For scientists, however, it is a necessary precondition for meaningful Speleology (the scientific study of caves). Cave diving is a form of technical diving and should not be confused with recreational forms of diving such as open water diving or cavern diving, the latter referring to diving in a cave or grotto within the daylight zone with the exit always in clear view.

Specialized equipment & training saves lives
In contrast to cavern divers, cave divers dive and research large cave systems and penetrate up to several kilometers deep into a cave. In order to reduce the risks they encounter to a minimum, cave divers use highly specialized equipment and need extensive training. For example, cave divers do not use snorkels as they serve no purpose inside the cave. Their equipment also differs in terms of fins, weight, gas supply, lights and buoyancy control. Training for cave divers includes equipment selection and configuration, guideline protocols and techniques, gas management, propulsion techniques and emergency management protocols.

Europe's largest underwater cave
Underwater caves can offer unique geological formations and contain flora and fauna that might not be found anywhere else. The exceptional beauty of these caves plus the fact that cave diving is probably the most exciting form of diving is what attracts many people to the sport. Great sites for cave diving in Europe are the Dordogne region in the South of France, the Swabian Alps in the South of Germany and Europe's longest cave system 'Sa Gleda' on the island of Mallorca.
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