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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cave Diving in a Flooded Mine in Central Germany

Crystal clear water with an average temperature of 8 degrees Celsius, great visibility, and the discovery of numerous mining relics, make for a thrilling cave dive in the world of former mineworkers.

Although I heard a lot of good stories about this spot one way or the other I never made it there, so it was about time. Arriving in the town of Willingen, I realized the place is actually a ski destination, quite noticeable by the hundreds of skiers flying down the mountains. Quite funny that within some hours, I will be flying underneath the mountains.

The entrance to the mine (named Christine) is located next to the Willingen firefighter's department and we start kitting up and dressing in the snow. For the first dive we decide to dive stages to add some time. When all is tested and the camera prepared we climb down a dark passageway leading us to the beginning of the mine -- a flooded, steep, silted tunnel leading in to the mine system.

Rusty old rails lead the way into the depths of this former slate mine. When diving into the interior of the mountain you can discover plenty: narrow passages, huge caverns, steep staircases. Everywhere in the tunnels, you will see traces of the former miners. The visibility gets better by the meter as we penetrate and the whole thing has the ambiance of diving a wreck within a cave, quite spectacular. Average depth is around 22 meters and the cold water is not bothering me much because I'm testing a new heated shirt which keeps me nice and toasty. Way to soon, our gas plan forces us back and I'm quite impressed when surfacing. I was able to shoot some photos which I hope give a good impression of the place.

More photos of the dive can be found at:
A video from the mine can be viewed here.

JP Bresser

Cave Diving

Sal is known for its fantastic beaches but beneath the water there are fantastic dives. PADI instructor Romina Andreini from Cabo Verde Diving describes a recent dive to the cave systems of Buracona and Regona.
Romina Andreini has been a PADI instructor for over 10 years and has lived in Cape Verde since 2003.
On arrival at the first dive site, Buracona, we entered the water with a giant stride, conditions were excellent and descended to about 24 metres to the mouth of the cave. A tunnel of about 100 metres extends from the mouth of the cave which has gentle turns and is made of rock. For the initial few minutes torches were used to guide divers through the tunnel until they arrived at the heart of the reef; it is here that divers are treated to a most spectacular light display. A large dome ascends to the reef top, where it breaks free into the daylight and the power of the sunlight creates majestic beams that light up the interior of the cave and reveal her true beauty. The group spent a good deal of time playing in the surreal beams of light and taking some fantastic photographs.
I was surprised that the group even enjoyed their safety stop by having fun hanging onto each others’ fins in a long line, and four of the group had an underwater rodeo, much to the enjoyment of all the other divers! If you visit Sal you really shouldn’t miss this dive.
Your Experience Magazine
After the surface interval on the boat we moved to the second dive site of Regona - another amazing dive. Regona is a series of horseshoe-shaped tunnels that interconnect and emerge into the open sea, providing much excitement and shark encounters. After entering the mouth of the cave the tunnel initially runs for approximately 20 metres before turning left and continuing for a further 400 metres, running parallel to the reef and with frequent exits to the reef’s edge.
This dive site is fascinating and unique in terms of the marine life that is living inside the cave. Crustaceans, sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, rays, slipper lobsters, catfish, moray eels and large schools of fish including jackfish and tuna can be found in abundance. If you’re a certified diver visiting the Island of Sal then an excursion to the unique underwater caves at Buracona and Regona is an absolute must. Whilst cave diving is considered an advanced form of diving it is possible for those with their advanced licence and a minimum of one dive in the local waters to experience these dives – and for less experienced there are beginners’ courses.

Discover more about Cape Verde

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Caye Caulker’s cave is possibly the largest in the world!!!

On March 14, 2013 in Exploring Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker could possibly be sitting on the LARGEST MARINE CAVE IN THE WORLD!!!  It’s a big statement but something that the well regarded National Geographic will take their time to explore in 2014, along with the elite in the dive world, lead by James Petersen or ‘Chip’ from Belize Dive Service and his team of researchers!!
Although many of us have been unwittingly sitting on this cave for most of our lives, the recent developments for the cave will prove monumental for the Caye – the increase in visibility on the dive map as experts and tourists alike will flock to see this unique natural beauty.  Not forgetting the impact this will have on the earth science world (biologists, hydrologists, archaeologists etc) as this cave acts as a time capsule preserving life forms and conditions of a more ancient earth.  And finally giving Caye Caulker global recognition for a truly magnificent natural marine creation as unparalleled as say Niagra Falls or the Grand Canyon!!
The story so far is this … the cave was first explored back in 1981 when the first owners of Belize Dive Services Paul Heinerth (to this day an International cave diving pioneer and author of many books on the subject) and Chuck Hattel dug into the cave.  Frank Bountain took over the shop shortly after and amounted over 500 dives in the cave itself – thus becoming the person who has dove the cave most to this date.   These pioneers amassed significant initial information that included basic mapping and even documented research.
Frank left Belize Dive Services in 1995 and from then there was no active diving undertaken in the cave until November 2012 when Chip Petersen and Bill Oestreich ‘Bert’ – both recognized Cave Dive Instructors entered the cave once more.  Chip and Dani Petersen bought Belize Dive Services back in 2009 and have already been contributing to the longevity of our marine environment by funding the Belize Shark Project.  Chip’s real dream in purchasing BDS was to follow the footsteps of his predecessors and access the cave system to allow Belize to realize the potentials of this natural beauty so when his mentor, Bert, turned up on Caye Caulker he seized the opportunity.
So to date, Chip, Bill and Marty O’Farell from San Pedro (all qualified and heavily experienced Cave Divers) have been re-tracing steps.  Chip has been given approvals and in particular the Permit by the Department of Archeology and the Environment the for surveying, mapping and scientific research in the caves of Belize.  Together they have been making accurate surveys through computer technology and thus far verifying and giving greater accuracy to the original data.
In the years and months to come the cave will attract the elite in the dive world to come and see for themselves this natural treasure of Belize (and indeed Caye Caulker!!).   From a commercial perspective, Chip together with the Village Council Chairman Alberto Villenueva, has pushed for the area between and including Tarpon View and the caves as a mini reserve – co-managed by the Village Council and the Dept of Archaeology.   Their aim is that a significant proportion of the profit of the reserve lies firmly in the hands of Caye Caulker and not, like the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve or even the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, monies are used elsewhere by the Government!!  This means that the money goes back into the community that it serves ie Caye Caulker!!
Chip is anxious that Belizeans get involved in the cave but stresses the dangers for those diving the cave.  All divers must go through a 15 day course to learn the specifics and skills of Cave Diving before accessing the cave.  Safety concerns are essential for those without the capacity to use the specialized equipment and techniques.  Experienced divers are the most frequent divers to lose their life in cave diving – this was illustrated by 2 lives being lost in this same cave back in 80′s – this is a situation which Chip very much wishes to avoid!!
For this reason the Belize Cave Diving Society has been established to promote safe and responsible cave diving in Belize.  Rules for guiding will be based on established methods used worldwide and a Cave Management Protocol created for all cave divers.  For more information please look on Facebook for updates on information as and when they have it!
This news of our hidden gem underneath Caye Caulker is indeed welcome news to all that care for her and indeed Belize – that which we know already and the possibilities are enormous and truthfully beyond what we can imagine at this point.  It is causing a great deal of excitement for those connected with it and we applaud all those who have actively taken their part in making this dream become a reality!!

Christmas Island Cave Diving

Christmas Island Cave Diving Print
Friday, 14 December 2012 08:18
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Remipede-300x190RemipedeNational Geographic have funded a cave diving research and mapping expedition for investigations of submarine caves along the coast of Christmas Island, a territory of Australia.
The grant will enable the team to search for new species of Remipedia, a class of crustaceans. Submerged caves on Christmas Island are likely to be inhabited by remipedes and possibly other undiscovered, cave-limited species. The caves of Christmas Island have never been completely explored or scientifically examined.
This is a joint expedition of U.S. and Australian researchers and world class cave divers. The cave diving team consists of Americans Thomas Iliffe, Jill Heinerth, Curt Bowen and Brian Kakuk and the Australia contingent is Richard Harris, John Dalla-Zuanna, Craig Challen, Ken Smith and Bill Humphries.