Akumal Cave Project 2004 – 17th March Update

Wednesday 17th March 2004

Links: Check out photos from the expedition here! | Read more on the expedition

All good things to those who wait.

Breakthrough.

Every expedition goes through it. Waiting for the first new line to be laid.   Today was the day. 

Terrence and Renee went diving with five bottles each, no small feat, while Karl and I stayed behind in our sick beds.  Well, Karl slept and I helped Terrence and Renee.  Actually, Karl was ill when he arrived.  While my cold got better his has gotten worse. So, it looks like we may be trading places.  Needless to say, we both wish we had been able to dive today.  But, you do not push your health for one day of diving when you have over a week of diving left.

Terrence and Renee made their way back into the system through Cenote de Muchachos to clear up lines and label different passages, so the public would have an easier time when they dive the system.  It is a bit unusual to have a system open to the public when exploration is going on, but since this project has been conducted for the last five years, it makes sense that it would be open by now.  So, we are taking steps to make sure that the system is as simple as it can be, yet still intact to preserve the survey.

After a long swim and over an hour in they were able to spend some time doing exploration.  Not long into their hunt, Terrence spotted a lead.  After about 400 feet/130 meters, they found a new cenote off the southern most region of the system.  Terrence named the cenote, Cenote Kaibab.  Kaibab is Terrence’s dog’s name (A lovely boxer that is just the nicest thing ever.).  The cenote lies off of Thesia’s line.  Thesia is Renee mother and has been with us for the duration of all the expeditions.   She is everyone’s unofficial mother with none of the bad parts.  

The team returned to Cenote de Muchachos was a little under four hours.  I was waiting to greet them after dancing around to tunes on my newly acquired iPod.  They were over due by a bit, so I used the time to try out my new digital camera.  I shot a bit of macro of some of the local flora and fauna (See photo gallery for samples.)  I believe I was in the middle of shooting ants when I saw Terrence surface. 

It is not uncommon during expeditions to not have a definite exit time for the team.  It really depends on what happens.  When the cave system is relatively shallow, such as this one, there is plenty of time to extend your stay if your gas supply will allow it.  The team is using Nitrox 36% primarily.  The average depth of the system in this area is about 70 feet/ 21 meters.  This allows the team greatly extended bottom times. 

The added time allowed Renee and Terrence to find the seventh cenote on the system.  Apparently, this cenote is free of debris and much silt.  Terrence said, “After we came up into it, I was still able to see my fins.   It is on the smaller side, but very pretty.”  Terrence added, “There are leads all over this cave.  It looks like this is a go.”   

It is always very exciting when an expedition draws first blood, so to speak.   It breaks one of the unspoken concerns of all who participate; are we going to have any success?  Once the first line is out, all of that goes away.  Really, none of us come with an agenda, but we all have hopes for progress in the work.  I guess none of us would be here if we were not motivated to help sustain the project and continue to build the science that enables the work to continue. 

Don Raphael, the owner of the land Cenote de Muchachos lies on was very happy to hear of the new cenote.  We said he would need to paint his sign to change it to read seven cenotes in the system.  He said, in Spanish of course, “I am going to wait till the expedition is over to repaint it.  You very well could have eight, nine or even ten by the time you are finished.”  We all laughed at that one. Maybe he will be right.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Well, first line and a new cenote to boot.  A monster dive and everyone is home safely.  Not a bad day all around, you think?

For detailed daily updates checkout www.cambrianfoundation.org.

Links: Check out photos from the expedition here! | Read more on the expedition

Grant has been diving for over twenty years and has over 5000 dives.  He is a trimix instructor trainer and PADI Course Director.  He has a BS in marine biology from Long BeachState.  He has been technical diving, as such, for over 15 years.  He is a published author and photographer.  He is a working cinematographer / videographer / director.  You have probably seen his work on the diving adventure series The Aquanauts.  He has been a participant in many of DSAT’s productions to develop media for PADI and others.  He is the owner Scuba And Film Enterprises, LLC, a water safety/coordination company that facilitates water work in the entertainment community. He is a Board Member of the United States Apnea Association. No matter what mode he is diving, Grant is striving everyday to help advance the sport and share his love of the sport and its environment with the world.

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