Archive for the ‘Cave diving’ Category

One of oldest human skeletons in North America is discovered

Cave-diving scientist Patricia A. Beddows of Northwestern University is a member of an international team of researchers and cave divers this week announcing the discovery in an underwater Yucatán Peninsula cave of one of the oldest human skeletons found in North America.

Details of “Naia,” a teenage girl who went underground to seek water and fell to her death in a large pit named Hoyo Negro (“black hole” in Spanish), will be published May 16 in the journal Science.

“The preservation of all the bones in this deep water-filled cave is amazing — the bones are beautifully laid out,” said Beddows, who has hovered underwater above the skeleton’s site and prospected in the area. “The girl’s skeleton is exceptionally complete because of the environment in which she died — she ended up in the right water and in a quiet place without any soil. Her pristine preservation enabled our team to extract enough DNA to determine her shared genetic code with modern Native Americans.”

Beddows, a native of Canada fluent in English, Spanish and French, is available to talk to reporters under embargo and can discuss her experience as one of the two cave-diving scientists who have been underwater at the site. She also can share her expertise on the formation of the caves, the distribution and movement of groundwater at Hoyo Negro and sediments at the site and on the skeleton.

Beddows can be reached at office 847-491-7460, cell 224-420-0977

Now covered by water, the girl’s skeleton is between 13,000 and 12,000 years old and establishes a shared ancestry between the earliest Americans and modern Native Americans. Genetic analysis shows the prehistoric girl and living Native Americans came from the same place during the initial peopling of the Americas. The near-complete human skeleton — with an intact cranium and preserved DNA — was discovered lying 130 feet below sea level near a variety of extinct animals, including an elephant-like creature called a gomphothere. These remains helped scientists establish the age of the skeleton.

Cave-diving scientist Patricia A. Beddows of Northwestern University is pictured in the technical SCUBA gear she uses to access the flooded cave systems in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. She is a contributing scientist for the Hoyo Negro site, where one of the oldest human skeletons in North America was found alongside at least 16 other animal species.

(Photo Credit: : E. Monroy-Rios)

Led by Pilar Luna of the Mexican government’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and James Chatters of Applied Paleoscience, 15 experts from a wide range of fields have been focused on telling the story of the young woman and Hoyo Negro since the skeleton’s discovery in 2011.

Beddows’ expertise regarding the Hoyo Negro discovery is focused on three areas:


  • Cave formation. “Hoyo Negro is a very complex site,”Beddows said. “By understanding the formation of the shallow caves and the shaft into which the girl fell, we know that the girl and the animals visited a site that looks almost like it does today, except that the water level was down in the bottom of the shaft.” 


  • Hydrogeology.Beddows’ studies starting in themid-1990s have shown how these extensive caves effectively drain groundwater to the coasts and, more specifically, how the water level in the caves matches sea level very closely. “Using this knowledge, we understand howHoyo Negro has changed over thousands of years,”Beddows said. 


  • Recrystalized rock sediments. The rocks and the skeletons inHoyo Negro have valuable rock crystals lying on them, including a new form of impressive crystal growing on them thatBeddows calls “florets,” in recognition of their bushy nature and one-inch size. “An impressive aspect of this research is that we have dated the skeleton directly, but we also have supported these dates with additional dates on the florets,”Beddows said. 

Her research focuses specifically on cave systems that are carved by dissolution of soluble carbonate rocks like limestone and dolomite, and her biggest research concentration is the flooded caves of the Yucatán Peninsula, including Hoyo Negro.

“Research in flooded caves is much like space exploration, with divers similar to astronauts reporting back to ‘mission control’ — a much larger scientific team at the surface,” Beddows said. “It all has to be done on SCUBA, which is our life support system. Our science team has been supported by a great number of dedicated non-science cave divers who have committed hundreds of hours at very dangerous depths to complete this exploration.”

An Intro to Cave Diving

Posted: April 23, 2014 by kirisyko in Cave diving, Water

Jump - Sail - Dive

The Cascade Room, some 80 feet beneath the surface, leads divers deeper into Dan's Cave on Abaco Island. - Wes C. Skiles The Cascade Room, some 80 feet beneath the surface, leads divers deeper into Dan’s Cave on Abaco Island. – Wes C. Skiles

I have always been interested in extremes, and I find that as I get older the more I would like to do extreme things (midlife crisis?). So with that in mind it has seemed like a natural progression to push my diving from normal recreational into the technical. When I did my sidemount speciality back in April 2013, the harness that my instructor used was a Razor. This harness was designed by Steve Bogaerts who is an expert cave diver. Obviously this has gotten my mind wondering about the possibilities of cave diving.

I moved to the Bahamas in August 2013 and started thinking about becoming cave certified. However, a chance discovery of a PADI IDC/IE at the same time as my holiday meant that I put those…

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Under Water

Divers in Cave Divers in Cave

Another Cave Diving Experience Another Cave Diving Experience

Don’t worry you will rarely get injured cave diving…you just die.  If this is true, why cave dive?

Because there is never a dull cave dive, you will see things that few people ever see, you do not have to deal with currents and wind, and the water is clear and the visibility is extreme.  Besides if you learn the necessary safety precautions you can do it safely.

Cave Diving, which should not be confused with cavern diving, is another aspect of scuba diving that requires additional training.  As with wreck diving you will get your open water certification, then log 25 dives, and do at least one more advanced divers training and finally you can certify for cave diving.

Cave diving requires some special skills like; knowing how to lay a line, navigation with a compass, special buoyancy, body position…

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Cavern Diving: Yes. – Cave Diving: Nope!

Posted: February 27, 2014 by kirisyko in Cave diving, Water

Florida Nature Uncovered

For many divers and non-divers alike, the idea of cave diving gives people the willies. A cave diver must undertake additional training that goes beyond recreational dive training. But there are many dive spots in Florida that are nowhere near the ocean that don’t necessarily require technical dive training (although more training never hurts).

That’s because Florida has a wealth of springs and sinkholes due to our porous bedrock and underground aquifer. Some of these form caverns that are popular recreational dive spots. Places like Blue GrottoBlue Spring, King’s Spring, and Ginnie Springs offer cavern diving (not to be confused with cave diving), which involves diving in shallower water within sight of the surface and with minimal or no overhangs (basically, anything that blocks your way to the surface). Most of these same places also offer cave diving, which involves deeper dives, extensive overhangs, and special…

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Watch this video

The deepest waters your body can handle

(CNN) — For most people plunging into the ocean’s cold, dark depths without an oxygen tank would be an alarming experience. But for Ahmad Tahilmet and his friends its one of life’s greatest pleasures.

They are freedivers — one of the growing number of young Emiratis who pursue the extreme water sport that is growing in popularity.

Unlike regular divers, freedivers prefer to go under water without oxygen tanks or other bulky equipment.

“It has something to do with the ocean and how much we love to be in it. You have so many ways to discover what’s under the water,” says Tahilmet.

“Some people go into scuba diving. Freedivers usually have a different approach because the silence.

“You have no bubbles, nothing. All that you can hear is your heartbeat and you get to see things that other people can’t see. You know because you are so quiet and calm.”

For these young Emiratis, freediving is not just a hobby, but it’s a competitive sport. But unlike other forms of competition, freediving requires participants to learn to relax, instead of relying on adrenaline.

Freediving has a long history in the UAE, going back to the old days of pearl diving, a one-time traditional livelihood. Driven by the need to make the living, the pearl divers relied on a weight to drag them to the seabed and a rope to guide them out of water.

But as that profession has disappeared, the practice of freediving has taken its place.

“I know it is not a necessity,” says Tahilmet. “Now we do it because we love the ocean.”

Freedivers compete for either depth or duration of a breath hold under water. And just like his pearl-diving Emirati forebears, present-day free divers such as Ahmed Khouri may opt to use weights to help them drop faster and deeper.

“Personally I prefer to dive with a neck weight,” Khouri says. “It just sits around the neck. It’s comfortable because it doesn’t really choke you. So you’ll be alright.”


Yet, experts warn that many freedivers, including those in the UAE, don’t have enough proper training or understand its dangers. And they warn accidents could rise as more people take part in the sport.

Now we do it because we love the ocean
Ahmad Tahilmet

Adel Ait-Ghezala, a 35-year-old Algerian freediver, went missing on New Year’s Day while spearfishing with his friends off the coast of Dubai. His body was found around 10 days later.

Both Tahilmet and Khouri are well aware of the dangers; they lost a friend to freediving, also off the coast of Dubai.

But AIDA, the international freediving governing body, says the sport has a strong safety record, and serious accidents in organized competitions, like the recent one late last year, are quite rare. (In November, champion American freediver Nicholas Mevoli died after he surfaced from a 72-meter dive in a competitive event in the Bahamas.)

For Khouri, the thrill of freediving is like doing another kind of extreme sport.

“The most fun part of the dive is the free fall,” he says. “It’s like people who do skydiving, they just freefalling. It’s just the same. You know I think that’s the best sensation you can have because the more you free fall, the deeper you go, the more fun you have.”

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All eyes may be on Sochi, Russia for the upcoming 2014 Winter Games but adventure-seekers tired of the Olympics can still find plenty of amazing spectacles.

They just need to look down. Like, deep down. And probably don a diving suit.

cave of crystals

What you’re looking at is the Orda Cave, located in Russia’s Urals regions, some 2,430 km northeast of the Olympic host city.

In total, the cave spans 5.1 km long, with 4.8km of it stretching underground. If caves had their own Olympic category, the Orda Cave would probably own the podium. It’s the longest underwater gypsum cave in the world and one of the longest underwater caves period.

As for the gypsum factor, it’s what makes exploring the Orda Cave so unique. The mineral comes in the form of transparent crystals which allows for phenomenal photography, with some divers reporting roughly 45 meters of visibility.

cave of crystals

The gypsum is also what makes the vibrant hues of blue found in the rock formations, as these 2011 photos from Victor Lyagushkin, an underwater photographer and journalist, illustrate.

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Spelunking and Rebirth

Posted: January 7, 2014 by kirisyko in Cave diving, SykOtic, Water

Pura Vida

Howdy, all!

They certainly don’t call it the birth canal for nothing! Today we donned helmets and headlights and went into the dark Venado Caves of Costa Rica. Beautiful, majestic, and cramped. On the way there, they repeatedly told us that if we had any claustrophobia or felt uncomfortable going through narrow spaces, we should not even try to enter the caves. Their warnings were not without reason. Shortly upon entry, I found myself splashing through the cave pools (Alberth couldn’t resist to make a reference to Smeagol!) and crawling through a hole not much wider than myself. In fact, one girl, Maritza, accidentally got her helmet caught when passing through.

After the hole we had to climb up a narrow wall, about 7 meters, that lead to a tunnel that would take us back to the beginning. Towards the end, our guide explained that the final tunnel would require…

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Darrin Spivey, left, and his son, Dillon Sanchez, died Christmas day while cave diving in Hernando County. PHOTOS FROM FACEBOOK

Darrin Spivey, left, and his son, Dillon Sanchez, died Christmas day while cave diving in Hernando County. PHOTOS FROM FACEBOOK

A father and his 15-year-old son died Christmas day while cave diving in Hernando County.



Deputies say the bodies of Darrin Spivey and his son, Dillon Sanchez, were recovered Wednesday night in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge after they went on the dive to use new equipment that Sanchez received for Christmas.



Deputies received a call from Holly King, Spivey’s fiancee, reporting that she was unable to contact Spivey around 3 p.m.



King drove to the site she thought they were diving — near Eagle Nest Sink — and called authorities after locating their car, deputies say.



While canvassing the area, deputies located a hunter who said he saw Spivey and Sanchez suited up to dive around 11 a.m. He told deputies he returned around 6:30 p.m. and found the car, but no sign of the divers.



Deputies say the bodies were located around 8:30 p.m.



Friends say Spivey was a certified diver but not a certified cave diver, and Sanchez was not a certified diver.



Assistant Hernando County Fire Chief Kevin Carroll said it appears the two divers had reached the main cavern area of Eagle’s Nest sink, which is a part of the overall Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management system.



One of the bodies was located just inside a cave at 67 feet and the second was located at 127 feet.



“It was very unfortunate,” Carroll said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends.”



Carroll said the two divers were friends with some of the fire department employees.

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Cenote Diving in the Yucatan

Posted: December 18, 2013 by kirisyko in Cave diving, Water

Onwards and Upwards, by Nicholas Kellett

What would an ancient Mayan shaman, peering forward in time in some mystical trance, have thought of the three of us, trudging through the jungle with strange rubber skin and heavy tanks of air on our backs?

As we sprouted webbed fins from our feet and dove into the cave opening below, descending below the dark water, the Mayan sage would perhaps have understood that we were spirits on our way into the Underworld.

And so we were, for we were diving in the famous Yucatan cenotes.

Cenote Diving in Tulum

Millions of years ago, the Yucatan peninsula was a coral sea. Uplifted above the water level, the coral turned into limestone. The erosion of water created pockets in the limestone, which joined together and formed the caves, pits, and tunnels that riddle the whole area, and are known as cenotes.

In addition to using them for pure groundwater…

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Reef Worlds, a leading underwater tourism development firm in the US, is introducing its new experiential underwater sites offering water sports for the Persian Gulf.

The Underwater Worlds programme is designed to help resorts and developments in the Gulf grow market share, increase customer satisfaction, and develop a competitive edge through unique, exciting, and interactive underwater worlds designed for the environment and for tourism. These underwater sites are featured on a resorts own footprint.

A recent study showed that 70 per cent of consumers felt more positive about a resort after participating in an experiential encounter. For time-share and fractional ownership properties having the ability to offer new and innovative on site experiences translates into stronger resort sales.

“We understand that most resorts do not have a development budget in place to design and build large scale underwater habitats for wildlife that look and feel like lost civilizations so we decided to partner with a few select resorts and build these sites for them,” said Mike Wallace, director of development at Reef Worlds.

“Resort experiential offerings come in many shapes and sizes and watersports activities are high on consumer’s to-do lists. We created something for everyone that takes experiencing the ocean environment to new heights.”

By providing underwater habitat creation for regional wildlife in an accessible environment, Reef Worlds creates extraordinary and memorable guest experiences. Participants enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving on lost cities, surrounded by new corals, colourful tropical fish, and a completely reinvigorated waterfront for the resort property.

Reef Worlds is in the process of partnering with select developments in the Gulf region for 2014, a statement said. – TradeArabia News Service

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