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There are many underground caves potholes and disused mines in most countries, They are all considered dangerous as explorers can easily get lost or hurt themselves or even worse drown. Here is a list of some terrible cave tragedies that could of been prevented.

Four teenage friends decided they would explore a cave entrance near where they lived ironically called The Cave Of Death the night before. The cave has a Y shape after 100 feet veering left you meet an underwater tunnel.

The four friends decided they would swim through the 20 inch gap along the 15 ft tunnel to an outer chamber that allows for up to 8 people to stand upright with a breathing space. On there return it seems they got into some difficulty as it is possible to bring up sediment and have no vision, A rope is attached to pull them through and its also possible to miss the exit hole and carry on to a dead end.

J Blake Donner 24       Scott Keiran McDonald 28

            Jennifer Galbraith 21               

When rescuers arrived they pumped water out and put air in but it was too late, Speculation is one of the females in the group blocked the entrance on the way back and they could not turn back.

The Nutty Putty potholing cave is situated in Utah County as is a maze of tight and unexplored tunnels. On November 24th 2009 John Jones a keen potholer went exploring with 11 other friends. He decided to go it alone and started to explore a tunnel system that he was unfamiliar with, Problems arose when he decided to go head first into a tight hole no bigger than the front of a washing machine and got stuck head first upside down.

Ariel Singer 18

When rescuers arrived they found it very difficult to pull John out as there was no room without breaking his legs and he was dangerously pooling when blood goes into your head from being upside down. He was also tightly trapped around his mid torso and was having difficulty in breathing. 

After 28 hours John Jones died and the Nutty Putty was sealed up forever as his final resting place and tomb.

Dave Shaw Born 1954 – 8 January 2005 was an Australian scuba diver who on 28th October 2004 set these world records. 

  • Depth on a rebreather

  • Depth in a cave on a rebreather

  • Depth at altitude on a rebreather

  • Depth running a line

  • Dave Shaw was diving Bushmans Hole situated in south Africa, When he reached the bottom he by chance spotted the remains of Deon Dreyer who had previously dived there 10 years previously. His body was at a depth of 890ft and badly decomposed even though he was still in his wetsuit. He reported back to his group and decided he would return at a later date to retrieve the body so his family could have a proper funeral for him.

To bring the body up Dave would be using a body bag to put him into at the bottom, A team of divers would assist at every stage of this dive. When Dave reached the bottom he got into difficulty as the body was floating due to its liquefied soap like state called adipocere.

     The entrance to Bushmans Hole S Africa

He got into difficulty getting tangled in lines attached to the bag and headlight he left rested on the floor of the cave, The extra effort had increased his breathing and he blacked out and died. 

David Shaw with his wife on there honeymoon.

Remarkably the next day both he and Deyer floated up to the service on his last dive of 333.

The last dive of David Shaw.

John Jones Video

The Blue Hole is a deep sinkhole located in Dahab Egypt near the coast of the Red Sea, It is full of marine life and a very popular place for tourists and divers alike.

The blue hole is among the deadliest and most dangerous dive sites and has claimed over 130 divers. It has a natural archway that leads out into the ocean but can easily be missed by the misadventurous diver usually resulting in death if the diver is not adequately prepared with the right equipment and planning.

On the 28th April 2000 Yuri Lipski born 1 October 1977- Died 28 April 2000, a Russian diver entered the blue hole for a recreational dive. Unprepared and fatally unequipped Lipski went into an uncontrolled descent to the bottom of the hole hitting the sea floor because he was carrying to much weight around his belt. He desperately tried to use his buoyancy aid to rise but at that depth and with nitrogen narcosis confusion hallucinations setting in he perished. Amazingly he recorded the entire event on his waterproof camera and can be seen here.

What happened to Yuri Lipski

Diving especially cave diving is a risk you take when going into these often dangerous and unpredictable environments, In 2012 four cave divers died in the blood grotto cave in Italy, The walls are red with a bacteria and the floor consists of a mud which can easily be stirred up. On there way back with a guide the floors were stirred up with there flippers and 0 visibility occurred, In a panic the divers went into another cave tunnel which leads to a dead end, four of the divers managed to make it back out but sadly four died and were found at the end of the dead end tunnel. the victims were Greek-born Panaiotis Telios, British-born Douglas Rizzo, and Susy Covaccini and Andrea Pedroni, both from Rome. 

Blood Grotto Tradegy

Hollis Explorer 2 eSCR Rebreather 2017 model. retail £3.599

Darren Spivey and his son Dillon Sanchez 15 went diving on Christmas day to test out some new diving equipment he had just purchased. Neither diver was a qualified diver and they chose the eagles nest sinkhole close to where they lived. They were only using oxygen tanks and dived down to over 233 feet in depth. Oxygen turns poisonous at 200 feet deep and they should of used a trimix of helium nitrogen and oxygen which would of needed a rebreather system which are expensive to purchase. Divers found two FULL emergency tanks next to Darrin.  Both had more than 3000 pounds of nitrox mixed air.  It was a lifeline that they, for some reason, never took advantage of but perhaps tried.  One of the tanks had been unclipped but the regulator was never pulled nor turned on. 

Father and son both ran out of air and battery for there lights and drowned. Spivey was found at 120 feet with his mouth piece detached indicating he may of tried to give his son some air, His son was found at a depth of 67 feet maybe trying to swim back.

A sign at the Eagles Nest Sink Hole warning divers of the dangers of going any deeper into the cave system.

An Arial view of the Eagles Nest Sinkhole.

Located in Northern Norway approximately 50 km from the town of Mo i Rana. Two entrances exist,  Plura Lakeside and the Steinugleflaget dry cave which is 2 km long and 130 meters deep, Water temperature is between 2 and 4 degrees celsius.

On 6th February 2014 Two Finnish divers die in a deep underground water filled cave system located in Plurdalen Norway. The cave system is only for experienced divers and is very dangerous because of it's cold temperature's and tricky narrow tunnels, A sudden tear in one of the divers suit's could result in death. The trip from the Plura cave entrance to Steinugleflaget would take over 5 hours to complete if thing's went to plan. Divers used Scooters to help them travel the deep underground network at depths of 130 meters. To date it is the deepest sump to ever be dived. At a bend at roughly 130 meters down one of the divers in the first team Jari Huotarinen got stuck and in a panic swallowed water and choked to death blocking a way forward for other divers on there way down. Patrik Gronqvist tried to help him after looking back for his friend, He found him entangled in a cord around some of his equipment. He gave him a cylinder of gas to reduce the amount of Carbon Dioxide in his system but he died in front of his eyes, Gronqvist needed to calm down and decided to leave his friend and head on to Steinugleflaget. Jari Uusimaki from team two was also running into difficulties after panicking when he found Huotarinen and drowned. When Vesa Rantanen reached Huotarinen he had to make the decision to turn back or to try and get past the dead diver. He decide he would try and get past adding another 15 minutes on to his dive time and an extra three hours of decompression time. He ran low on breathable gases and so had to come up 80 minutes early resulting in a mild form of the bends or decompression sickness. Kai Kankanen was the fifth diver and tried unsuccessfully to help Uusimaki he decided not to try and get past Huotarinen's body but turned back instead a long swim back. He managed to swim back but it took 11 hours and by the time he had reached Plura the lake had frozen and he had to break the ice to get out. All 3 survivors were hospitalised with decompression sickness but they survived. The Norwegian police were notified of the disaster and they contacted Rick Stanton a diver who had recovered a body from Plurdalen in 2006. A team was sent to the cave system to try and recover the two dead divers but the team gave up after admitting it was too risky an operation as the body was trapped and tangled at a very deep point of the cave and it was a risk to life to continue the recovery operation. The Norwegian police called off the recovery and that was when Patrik Gronqvist made a promise to Jari Huotarinen's wife that he and a team would get retrieve the dead divers themselves in a secret operation. They couldnt leave there friends down in the cave without a proper funeral it was the right thing to do. They also feared the cave would be closed for good and this operation would go ahead. Sami Paakkarinen would also help he is an experienced diver who had dived the cave system before and had great knowledge as he with 2 other divers Kai Kankanen and Patrik Gronqvist were the first to discover the joined up cave from Plura to Steinugleflaget dry cave. Diving for 10 years at the time Paakkarinen was a diving instructor who was teaching a course in Mexico at the time. After working out a course of action a team of 27 was put together to retrieve the bodies. Over a period of 5 days two teams of support divers and the 3 divers Gronqvist, Paakkarinen and Kankanen would go down to retrive the bodies. the support divers worked at each end of the cave at shallower depths to assist in the operation. Rantanen was surface manager as he previously had injured his spine caused by the decompression sickness he experienced from the accident. A ton of gear was winched into the Steinugleflaget cave, over 50 cylinders of gas were used. On the third day 24th March the recovery was started and the 3 divers went down but Kankanen returned after 85 meters as he felt unable to complete the mission. The first operation was a success from the Plura side bringing up Jari Huotarinen to Steinugleflaget. The next day from Steinugleflaget the divers brought up Jari Uusamaki who was very heavy much heavier than Huotarinen was but it was a success also. The team contact the Norwegiam police and after 6 months no charges were made against the divers. Gronqvist was awarded the First Class Medal of the White Rose of Finland by the Finnish President, They also went on TV and a movie called Diving Into The Unknown was made covering the disaster and recovery operation.

Diving can be unpredictable and things can go wrong very quickly. Each dive will give the diver and team more information on how to safely dive that cave the next time. The 3 divers that survived the accident all suffered from decompression sickness as they had limited gas supply. Learning from this recovery a good idea would be to carry out two dives but on the first dive gas cylinders should be layed out into the cave system so that divers don't run out of gas.

Patrik Gronqvist receiving his medal.

It would have been very scary for those divers to witness there friends deaths and there skill and training prevented further fatality. This cave system is very dangerous and is only for technical divers with a lot of experience. These divers had this but things still went wrong which shows how risky this type of diving is to life. Having extra cylinders put down on the first dive would ensure if problems arise gas will be available even spare scooters and lights would be advantageous. I am not a diver myself but from covering this story it makes sense to me to ensure you have the best chance of completing the dive.

The National Fruit Show is dedicated to showcasing the best of British fruit for over 80 years. Situated in West Malling Kent the show attracts famous people. Her majesty queen Elizabeth II attended the show in October 1984, Her majesty queen Elizabeth the queen mother attended on 29th October 1953. 

The Blackmoor estate near liss Hants is a 2500 acre site that grows and stores apples. Owned by the  Earl of Selborne, John Palmer who is a Conservative peer. 

Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24 worked on the site and were good friends. A temperature controlled storage system keeps fruit at very low oxygen levels so that the fruit keeps fresh for longer and also keeps insects away as they can't survive at the low levels of oxygen, Typically these storage units have a oxygen level of 1% and for a normal human to breath it is at 21% so is a dangerous environment to be in without breathing apparatus. There is a larger amount of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Mr Cain was instructed by the farm manager Andrew Stocker to go into the storage facility and retrieve some apples, It was common knowledge that who ever went down into it had to hold there breath as there was no oxygen. It was known as Scuba Diving a phrase used on the site, The manager Stocker wanted the best fruit to enter the national fruit show and it was to be found in the oxygen deprived storage facility. 

Scott Cain was ordered by Stocker to go and retrieve some apples and he was required to hold his breath. Stocker had just arrived in the Maldives and was not on site. He allowed the practice of Scuba Diving at the packhouse and he also approved it. The correct procedure to collect fruit would be to use a hook and breathing apparatus but this safety requirement was completely ignored. Cain asked his friend Ashley Clarke to accompany him to the hatch. Ashley would stand at the top and if there was a problem he could get help. Mr Cain would regularly go down into the storage facility one time 10 times in one day grabbing ten apples at a time. On February 18th 2013 at around 1pm they were seen heading towards unit 3 to retrieve the fruit. 

Shortly before 3pm Scott Cain and Ashlea Clark were found slumped over the apple crates dead, Distressed colleagues frantically tried to resussitate them but it was too late both had passed away from lack of oxygen. Stocker wanted the best fruit and a hook was not satisfactory, He regularly won at the fruit show even though the prizes were modest he gained great satisfaction from the risks involved and winning. This was an accident just waiting to happen said Mark Dennis QC. As soon as a person tried to take air it would have caused death in such cramped and dangerous circumstances, 

Mr Cann, from Liphook, Hants, was engaged to marry his long-term girlfriend Filipa Turner and had a young daughter called Isla.

Mr Clarke, from Liss, Hants, was also engaged to be married to his girlfriend, Rachel.

Scott Cain 23                                                   Ashley Clarke 24

Andrew Stocker packhouse Manager. Started working at the Blackhouse estate in 1991 and was promoted to operations manager in 2004.

Lord Selborne John Palmer owner of the Blackmoor estate. Established in 1920 has a long standing reputation for growing traditional and new varieties of English apples pears and plums for cider and juice manufacture. The site has 2000 tonnes of refrigerated and controlled storage facilities.

Andrew Stocker was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter. He ignored health and safety regulations and encouraging staff to scuba dive inside the storage facility. He was given a jail term of 2.5 years, The Blackmore estate was fined £75.000 plus £30.000 in costs after entering guilty pleas. Suggestions given in court suggest phasing out hatches on the roofs and keeping existing hatches permanently locked with explicit warning signs stuck on to warn of possible death.

Stunt Diver Agnes Milowka was only 29 years old when she passed away in and extensive labyrinth of tunnels and caves (Known as Tank Caves) in Mt. Garnier.
Milowka was an experienced stunt diver also and had worked with James Cameron on the set of the movie Sanctum. She carried out stunt work for two female characters in the movie.
Milowka was a passionate cave diver and explorer who pushed the boundaries of cave diving exploration, She was captivated by the sheer mystery and incredible natural beauty of these sometimes unexplored places, She risked her life many times just to set eyes on the amazing natural spectacle that only a small elite amount of divers are prepared to do. Having dived Florida's cave country and the Bahamas extensively she turned to her own country and set her sights on Tank Cave, a maze like system with more than seven kilometers of underground passages, located near Mt. Gambier in South Australia. Milowka was a highly experienced diver and had dived Tank Caves many times before.

Some cave divers follow a plan but others want to find new caves and tunnels, Finding out new entrances new areas of a cave system is perilous and can be deadly, Losing your way in a complex myriad of tunnels and tight squeezes is definitely not recommended.
Greg Bulling and Tony Carlisle pushed through a restriction and discovered a wide, low, silty tunnel system heading South. This was progressively explored and mapped to add more than 700m of passage with the furtherest point 500m from the entrance.
This discovery was significant on three counts. Firstly, it broke through a line where all other known passages had stopped. Secondly, the tunnels in this section run almost due south whereas most other known tunnels in Tank Cave run on the typical NW-SE bearing for Mount Gambier caves. Finally, this section led to the finding of the first accessible air chamber in the cave by Ron Allum in February, although the chamber is reported as being low with a thick mud slope leading to the roof.

Agnes Milowka diving in Rock Bluff Cave Florida, Rock Bluff is an extreme sidemount cave in North Florida with a difficult entrance that requires a whole bunch of effort to actually negotiate... and that's just the start of it. Join Ag on this fun and challenging dive.

In too deep (2011) - The deadly risk of cave diving | 60 Minutes Australia

Agnes Milowka Location: Abaco Island, Bahamas

Site: Ralph’s Cave – The deep side
Bottom Time: 3 hrs. 34 min.
Maximum Depth: 155

A second warm up dive conducted by Greg Bulling and Tony Richardson produced another discovery on a Good Friday too. The two divers were in a different section of the cave to the one described above. The divers managed to negotiate over a rockpile at the 480m mark, This led to a large keyhole shaped passageway which was dived to 580m. The divers returned the same day with a fully loaded reel and a 50 c.f. stage bottle. The divers explored to 730m.  Another rockpile had been discovered at 630m followed by smaller passage before again dropping into large keyhole passage. This terminated in a low room filled with clay blocks quite unlike others found in Tank Cave or Iddlebiddy -these being much smaller with sharper edges. This room was named the "Jigsaw Room". Shining lights across the azure blue water gave the appearance of more passage leading off across the room.

Tank Cave Entrance Lake Tony Richardson and Greg Bulling after discovering the Easter Extension © Greg Bulling

CAVE DIVERS IN MT GAMBIER – Our own crew doing the hard yards…

After two long dives and a total distance swum of close to 3km, a rest day was called for.
The plan for Easter Sunday was to use 88 c.f. stages and lay another reel of line through the Jigsaw Room and beyond. The stage bottles were dropped at the 400m mark and with well-pumped tanks, the two divers arrived at the Jigsaw Room with ample air. Line was laid across the Jigsaw Room and up a new tunnel which appeared to be closing down when the dive .was turned at the 850m mark due to an empty exploration reel. A smaller tunnel off the Jigsaw Room was explored for 50m with a safety reel on the return. The maximum depth of 18m combined with the long duration, caused the Aladin Pros to click into decompression mode on the return journey but still 600m from home. The last 20 minutes of this 130 minute dive passed quickly as the dive was discussed in detail on slates while decompressing in the entrance restriction.

Historical - Tank Cave Map 1st Edition - 1983 - Mt Garnier.

This discovery naturally caused a great deal of excitement as it is not every weekend that over 400m of new cave is explored. When this Easter Extension was drawn up on the map it was found to run parallel to the previous longest tunnel, the 560m tunnel. This tunnel has been found and mapped in earlier explorations by Paul Arbon, Chris Brown, and Phil Prust. A connection between the two was a possibility.

Returning a few weeks later on the Anzac long weekend, two further exploration dives were again made by Greg Bulling and Tony Richardson. On the first, diving in another area of the Jigsaw Room led to a new 125m tunnel running between the Easter Extension and the 560m tunnel and terminating at 860m. Checking out some possible leads off the early part of this new tunnel became the objective for the second dive. The first lead to be checked was heading towards the 560m tunnel but was wide, low, and silty. One diver proceeded in carefully for about 20m. The tunnel gave no indication of getting any bigger but, just at the point of turning, marks were noticed on the clay floor - evidence of a previous dive from a different direction. Continuing on for another 5m and the 560m line was reached. The connection had been made and Tank Cave had revealed another of her secrets.

Interestingly nearly all the exploration diving described above in both the South Section and Easter Extension has been done with side mounted cylinders. Other divers have since dived most of the new cave with back mounts but side mounts made it easier initially for the exploration divers to find the way through into new tunnels.

Celebration of Agnes Milowka's Life with her favorite music in the background by Chris Thomas King "Da Thrill Is Gone From Here" (also by BB King "The Thrill is Gone") and Megan Washington "Given Everything" [San Remo, March 14, 2011]

Diving in the Eastern Extension requires stage bottles to be carried for part of the dive. The additional redundancy from having three tanks each in the cave means that these dives are now considerably safer - a loss of an air supply is equal to losing a maximum of one third of your total air supply rather than one half as with twin tanks.

Decompression in the entrance restriction is not a problem as there is room for two divers with stage bottles and still a wide path for other divers to enter or leave the cave.

Tank Cave is now the most extensive underwater cave system in Australia with close to six kilometres of mapped passage. On a world scale it is harder to ascertain, but from all accounts it would rate about sixth.

Milowka was diving this very cave system and went missing from a group of divers in Tank Cave. Milowka was a keen underwater photographer and cave diver. She was reported missing around 1.45pm 28th February 2011 and her body was found about 500m from the cave entrance after divers worked through the night in pitch black conditions as reported by Superintendent Trevor Twilley.

"Members of Cave Diving Australia will dive first to ensure the route through the twisting water-filled chambers to the body is clear," he said today.

He said the divers would take a video of the route before police divers were given the all-clear to enter the water and retrieve the body.

He said the dive was expected take between three and four hours.

If a dive was considered unsafe, police said they would consider tunnelling from the surface to reach the body.

Warwick McDonald, former national director of the Cave Divers' Association, said the woman had dived at Tank Cave “many, many times" and was among a group of other Victorian divers visiting for the weekend.
The Polish born expert HAS explored caves from Tasmania to the Bahamas, gained qualifications in maritime archeology and also worked for National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, before acting as a stunt diver for two female characters in Sanctum.

On Friday, Ms Milowka tweeted her excitement at the upcoming South Australian diving expedition.
“Another w-end of cave diving in Mt Gambier ... fabulous! Can't wait to get underground,'' she wrote.

Tank Cave stretches at least 7km underground near Mt Gambier, in South Australia's southeast.

Ms Milowka wrote about the Tank Cave system in December, describing it as the “crowning jewel” of the caves in the region, writing for Cave Diving Down Under.

Police are attempting to retrieve the body of professional diver Agnes Milowka, who died during a cave dive near the South Australian town of Mount Gambier.

A compilation of Deep Cavern footage from Piccanninie Ponds and Kilsbys Sinkhole in Mt Gambier..

At the time she believed the cave was relatively safe: “The cave is stunning, it is relatively shallow (a max depth around 20m), there is no flow to fight and the water is crystal clear - you can't go wrong really.”
But she also wrote that the system was complicated, “like a spider web gone wild” and meant divers must learn the cave carefully to navigate tight restrictions and often zero visibility.
The adventurous diver wrote she had already discovered another side passage at least 300m long in the system on a previous visit, and hoped to discover more on visits such as her tragic final one.
She said that passage was a small hole, too tiny for her buddy, but she squeezed through for a brief foray into the darkness before turning back.

On her website, Ms Milowka says she is well aware of the risks she faces everytime she submerged into the dark subterranean world of cave diving."It would be difficult to claim that caves are completely safe" she says.
"Going into caves in general carries a certain amount of risk, and then if you add water and submerge the cave then obviously the risks increase."

Tank Cave has been described by dive experts as "the best cave in the southern hemisphere".

The cave is on private property on the Princes Highway, halfway between Millicent and Mt Gambier, near Tantanoola, and is renowned for being a "complicated underground cavern".

Police say they will prepare a report for the Coroner.
A recent report by Adelaide Now shows there are just 800 accredited divers prepared to risk their lives to reach a beautiful underground world, as alien as space.
The sport combines scuba diving and cave exploration, with South Australia’s south east considered to have some of the best cave diving sites in the world.
Divers from as far as Russia come to visit the estimate 330 known caverns, sink holes and caves such as The Black Hole, The Shaft and Death Cave.
Tank Cave is considered one of the most spectacular, with its a labyrinth of connected passages.

Image to the Right, Kilsby's Sinkhole is a 65-metre deep limestone cavity in the middle of Graham Kilsby's sheep property.

Agnes Milowka during one of her many cave dives, as pictured by fellow diver Wes Skiles in an image from her website

The cave has an immense attraction for divers as there is still a lot of unexplored tunnels to discover and explore, 
Agnes Milowka - Tuesday, 3oth November 2010, 

The Mt Gambier region of South Australia is famous for its numerous caves and sinkholes but Tank Cave stands out from amongst the crowd and is the crowning jewel as far as cave divers are concerned. Tank Cave, named so because a water tank used to rest right over the top of the entrance, is an extensive, maze like system with over 7km (23000ft) of passage which makes it one of the longest caves in Australia.

The Tank Cave entrance is on private property and the Cave Divers Association of Australia (CDAA) strictly control access to the site. The complicated nature of the system (it looks like a spider web gone wild) requires a strict familiarization process that allows cave divers to get to know the cave step by step. While there are a lot of hoops to jump through before you allowed access to the site, on the upside this means that every cave diver is intimately familiar with all the main passages of Tank Cave before they venture off into the many side tunnels.

Sometimes cave divers worry that Tank Cave will prove to be a huge disappointment after all the fuss leading up to the first dive but even the gold line dives are quite exciting. Tank Cave in unlike any other in the Mt Gambier region, it is a real gem and it is a joy to dive. The cave is stunning, it is relatively shallow (a max depth around 20m), there is no flow to fight and the water is crystal clear - you can't go wrong really. 
The best part of diving in Tank Cave however is that there is still plenty of potential for exploration. Whilst most people assume everything around the Mt Gambier region has been found and discovered this is definitely not so and is most certainly not the case in this cave. My second weekend there, whilst still doing familiarization dives, my buddy and I found going passage right off the gold line. It was a little hole but the tunnel quite clearly went. My buddy couldn't actually fit through the restriction initially, so he patiently waited for me as I went off to check out what was beyond the squeeze. In the end I laid almost 300m (1000ft) of line, so clearly there is a lot more new cave passage to be found in Tank Cave. 

The photo above was taken under “Lake Ayre”, which is on the gold line in Tank Cave. Given its convenient location I usually swim under it at least once on a weekend in Tank, on the way home from the further reaches of the cave. It’s a completely enclosed air space composed of bubbles exhaled by passing divers. When first approached from back in the tunnel, you can look up and see the still, mirrored surface. Once divers swim underneath and exhale the ripples begin, spreading outwards to the walls on either side.

A dive through tunnels A, B, C & F at Tank Cave, Mount Gambier, Australia, in December 2013.

Picaninnie Ponds - Mt Gambier - South Australia - photo by Agnes Milowka

This new section comes off the end of the C line and it is most definitely a sidemount only passage. Depending on your size it might require you to take one tank off in order to pass through the initial restriction. The tight bits don't end with the first restriction however; there are a number of them before you finally reach a larger more open passage. The walls and roof to begin with are quite soft and squishy, which means that large chunks of the roof rain down on you as you exhale and the visibility is quickly reduced to zero. This is not only a hazard when coming back out through the small restrictions but it also means that this section of the cave is particularly fragile and needs to be handled with a bit of tender love and care.

In order to improve the quality of the survey I called in Ken Smith, the legendary 'Pinger Man.' The pingers are a part of an underwater radiolocation system that allows the location of the pinger underwater to be located from above ground. This helps to establish an accurate position for each survey station pinged with GPS accuracy and as such helps to tie in the remote sections of the cave with the existing map. We pinged four points that weekend and as such an accurate map is forthcoming. 

Exploration is continuing in Tank Cave at the end of a number of tunnels, which makes this cave an exciting one to visit and top of my list when heading over to Mt Gambier. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this cave as many more discoveries are yet to come. Perhaps one day the cave will break the magical 10km (33000ft) mark.

Agnes Milowka (23 December 1981 – 27 February 2011) was an Australian technical diver, underwater photographer, author, maritime archaeologist and cave explorer. She gained international recognition for penetrating deeper than previous explorers into cave systems across Australia and Florida, and as a public speaker and author on the subjects of diving and maritime archaeology.She died aged 29 while diving in a confined space.

Born in Czestochowa, Poland, Milowka moved to Melbourne at an early age with her parents, attending Caulfield Grammer School from 1994 to 1999. At the school, she was a house captain, champion school rower and was a finalist in the staewide VCE achiever award, She received her graduate degrees in Maritime Archaeology from Flinders University (2007), Batchelor of Business, Marketing and Event Management from Victoria University (2008), Batchelor of Arts, History, and Australian Studies from University of Melbourne (2005), where she was a president of the Melbourne University Underwater Club (2203-2005).

In the summer of 2007 she completed an internship in St. Augustine, Florida, with LAMP (Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program), the research arm of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, where she participated in the archaeological excavation of historic shipwreck sites. This work would introduce her to Florida diving, where she would go on to explore extensive cave systems. During her schooling, she participated as the researcher and diver in a series of qualitative underwater archeological research projects.

In the effort coordinated by Victorian Speleological Association in 2009, she and James Arundale explored Elk River streamway cave system by an additional 1,400 metres (4,600 ft), which has potential to become the longest continuous stream passage in Victoria, Australia. In a 2009 expedition near Cocklebiddy, she reached the midpoint of Craig Challen's 2008 line giving her the record for the longest cave dive in Australia for a female. She worked as an underwater grip in 2008 for a film by Discovery Channel Japan, "Water's Journey" by TV Asahi & Karst Productions. She was part of the National Geographic Nova TV Special expedition to Blue Holes of the Bahamas, in December 2008, as an underwater grip, followed by the expedition to look for similar sinkholes in Queensland, Australia in October 2009.

Agnes Milowka - Duke Cave

Milowka was a photographic assistant on the National Geographic Magazine expedition to Bahamas Caves, November–December 2009, resulting in a few of her photos being published by the National Geographic website. Her underwater photography has been included in multimedia library of the popular website creation software WebEasy Professional (since 2007), distributed by Avanquest Software.

In 2010, when living in Florida, she laid over 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) of line across a number of cave systems, the most significant of which was Mission Spring. In August 2010, together with James Toland, she made the connection between Peacock Springs and Baptizing Spring, Florida adding over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) of passage. She was the presenter and editor for TV series "Agnes Milowka Project" (2010) featuring underwater cave footage shot by Wes Skiles, Karst Productions.

Agnes Milowka playing with children at Florida's primary school (2007). Subject of the course is DIVING, of course... Part 1.

Agnes Milowka was a speaker at a number of diving related conferences (OZTek 2009, EuroTek 2010). She acted as a stunt double for two female characters on the James Cameron produced feature film, Sanctum (2011) and worked during the production as cave dive instructor to the actors. In 2011 she was nominated as Dive Rite Ambassador. One of her last jobs was as a diving supervisor on BIRTH, a short film for the TRIMÄPEE fashion label. The movie has been dedicated in her name.

In February 2011, she ran out of air and died after parting company to explore a tight restriction, which necessitated going solo, in the Tank Cave near Tantanoola in the south east of South Australia, In recognition of Milowka's achievements and legacy, The Agnes Milowka Memorial Environmental Science Award has been established by Mummu Media for underprivileged schools in the area of science, marine studies or exploration. In May 2011 Agnes Milowka posthumously received the Exploration Award, in recognition of the outstanding and dedicated service to the National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section, USA. A number of geologic features have been named in memory and her original exploration work in Australia: "Ag's Dreamtime Passage" in the underwater Olwolgin Cave on Nullarbor Plain, Agnes Chamber, in Davis Cave System, Bats Ridge, Victoria, and Milowka Canal in Elk River Cave, Victoria. Her name has been featured in memoriam at 2011 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts AACTA and in popular sci-fi webcomic book Crimson Dark, the alliance starship has been named A.W.S.Milowka.

Unnamed Cave is the most recent major discovery in Australian cave diving. Out on the Roe Plains in the West Australian desert, the massive tunnels discovered so far are still going kilometres from the entrance, with teams going out over the coming months to continue exploration. The cave was first dived last October on a trip led by Paul Hosie of CEGWA. Discovered half way through the expedition, the group spent the last few days chucking in as much line as possible before they had to return to civilisation. One of those divers was Brian Kakuk of Bahamas Underground, who worked with Agnes during the National Geographic shoot in the Bahamas in 2010. On his final dive, Brian entered a tunnel roughly parallel to the initial main passage, with white scalloped limestone walls. Impressed by the cave and the passage, Brian suggested naming it after Ag.

Plaque for Agnes Milowka by Victorian Speleological Association, 2013. Memorial plaque:

Milowka authored articles on the subject of underwater exploration, and her experiences and work as a diver. These include:

Let's Talk About... The S Word
Heaven is a place on earth
Why Ginnie and I are like peas and carrots
Virgin Territory: Devil's Eye past the restriction
Deep holes in the ground that will blow your mind: Bahamas
Mission Spring
Cave diving in Victoria: Exploration of the Elk River streamway (co-authored with Jim Arundale)
In the heart of Tiger's Eye
Virgin Territory: Devil's Eye Cave System Beyond Restriction
Deep Holes. Unraveling The Mysteries Of The Bahamas
Mission Spring Exploration
The Elk River Streamway: A hump to a sump
Eye of the Tiger: On expedition in Tassie
The Taming Continues: The Peacock to Baptizing Connection, co-author James Toland 

Australian divers including Dr Richard Harris (centre) talk with a Thai diver outside the flooded cave. Photo: AP

Dr Richard "Harry" Harris was involved in the operation and rescue of 12 thai boys and their soccer coach from the Tham Luang cave recently.The anaesthetist from Adelaide with more than 30 years of diving experience was specifically requested by British divers participating in the Thai rescue.

His cave diving skills were also called upon in 2011, when he had the difficult task of recovering the body of his friend Agnes Milowka after she ran out of air.
Dr Harris was among the expert cave divers who helped police in the recovery of her body, called upon to assist because of the complexities of the almost eight-kilometre stretch of twisting underwater passages.

Ms Milowka, a well-known diver who had worked as a stunt diver on James Cameron's 3D diving film Sanctum, reportedly became disoriented and ran out of air while trying to work out how to get out of a section of the cave. As with the recovery of his friend's body, Dr Harris has been described as "essential" to a rescue mission to save a young Thai soccer team from their cave prison.Dr Harris risked his own life on Saturday to make the treacherous journey to the chamber where the boys have been trapped underground for 15 days.

"The doctor from Adelaide has been an essential part of the health assessments for the young boys," Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told reporters on Monday.

On 23 June, 12 boys went exploring in Thailand's Chiang Rai province with their football coach - and ended up trapped deep inside a cave underneath a mountain. The team and their young coach were ready to celebrate Night's birthday. They had often ventured deep into Tham Luang, sometimes as far as 8km, for initiation rites where they would write the names of new team members on a cave wall.In high spirits, they clambered into the cave with just their torches. They didn't need much else - after all, they were only planning to be there for an hour.
They would not emerge until two weeks later.

A massive operation was staged to try and rescue the trapped boys and coach, It was also the rainy season there and time was critical. Millions of liters of water was continously pumped out to try and lower water levels in the cave system. A thai navy seal sadly died from limited air and the boys were eventually rescued. Swallowed up by an unforgiving mountain and surrounded by darkness, the boys and the coach lost all sense of time. Fear, perhaps even terror, would no doubt have crept in.

But they were nothing but determined to survive. The group used rocks to dig 5m deeper into the shelf, to create a cavern where they could huddle together and keep warm.

The rescue divers and boys in Thailand must dive, swim and climb their way to safety along a pitch-black tunnel that at certain points is barely big enough to allow an adult to wriggle through.

Coach Ake, a former monk, taught the boys meditation techniques - to help them stay calm and use as little air as possible - and told them to lie still to conserve their strength. They had no food but had a water supply from the moisture dripping down the walls, Air was adequate for a time as it seept through porous limestone and cracks in the rock surface.
Authorities called in the elite Thai Navy Seals, the national police, and other rescue teams. Local volunteers also pitched in.

Initial investigations found footprints at one of the chambers in the cave - but no other sign the boys were still alive. They even tried drilling into the mountainside, desperate to find cracks into the cave system which they could squeeze into, and used drones with thermal sensors to try to locate the boys.Rescuers also turned to the villagers for local knowledge. The Thai Navy Seals found a boy, a Wild Boar member who happened to have skipped the cave expedition. He recalled a place in the complex they'd visited before - called Pattaya Beach.The first international rescuers arrived on Thursday 28 June.

These were US air force rescue specialists, and cave divers from the UK, Belgium, Australia, Scandinavia, and many other countries. Some had volunteered, and some were called in by Thai authorities.John Volanthen and Rick Stanton had been braving Tham Luang's narrow, murky passageways for several days, laying out guide ropes and searching for signs of life.

On Monday, the two men finally reached Pattaya Beach. But there was nothing.

They continued onwards into the darkness. Then, a few hundred metres further, they found an air pocket.Wherever there is air space we surface, we shout, we smell," John told the BBC. It's a standard procedure for such rescue operations.

WATCH: The moment British divers found the 12 missing Thai boys and their football coach in a flooded cave in Chiang Rai. (Video: Thai Navy Seal)

"We smelt the children before we saw or heard them."
Soon, the light from John's torch illuminated an electrifying sight - the boys emerged from the darkness, coming down the ledge towards him.Rick started counting the boys, while John asked: "How many of you?"
"Thirteen!" came the reply in English.
"Thirteen? Brilliant!"
Next to John, Rick couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. "They're all alive!"
The lost Wild Boars had been found.
The two divers stayed for a while to try and boost morale and reassure the boys of there rescue, They also promised to return with food and other supplies, The boys looked thin but were otherwise in good health.
The boys and their coach were quickly joined by a military medic and Navy SEAL divers who would stay with them for the rest of the ordeal.

Thailand cave rescue: All boys saved - how they did it

After nine days in the darkness, the Wild Boars once again saw light. They longed for proper food, and begged for pad krapao, a rice dish with meat stir fried with basil.
But doctor's orders were that they be put on a special diet of medicated liquid food, and mineral water with added vitamins. The problem now was how to extract the boys safely as the passageways out were waterlogged and with 0 visibilty it would be a difficult extraction process.
Former Navy Seal diver Saman Gunan was one of many volunteers who had rushed to help in the rescue.
On 6 July, while on a routine run to deliver air tanks to the boys, he lost consciousness after running out of air for himself. His dive buddy pulled him out and tried to revive him.

Raphael Aroush speaking to the media outside the  Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand. Rafael Aroush is a volunteer rescuer and diver. He says the cave is very tight and there are too many people inside - but they need all of those crews to get the boys out.

Never Forget Saman Gunan, The Diver Who Died Saving The Boys Trapped In Cave 

But Saman could not be saved. He was only 38 years old.
There were three possible ways to bring the boys out, One was to continue the water pumping but this was risky as more rain could turn up and it would take up to four months not the bst solution. The second option was to drill an alternative passageway in to the cave, or thirdly train the boys to dive so they could basically swim out.

It was time to launch what would later be described as a "superhuman" rescue effort, one that involved nearly 100 Thai and foreign divers.

Thai soldiers prepare scuba diving gear and rescue equipment during the ongoing rescue operations for the child soccer team and their assistant coach, at Tham Luang cave. (EPA Photo)

The journey was split into two sections.

The first - from the boys' rocky ledge to chamber three - was more difficult. Rescuers made their way for hours through pitch dark waters that were bone-chilling cold, feeling their way with guide ropes. At times they had to navigate sections so ridiculously narrow that they could only just about fit a body through.

Each boy was given a full-face air mask to ensure they could breathe, and clipped to a diver. Another diver accompanied them.

A cylinder was strapped to the front of each child, while a handle was attached to their backs - and they were held face down to ensure water would run away from their faces.At the narrow sections, rescuers had to unstrap their air tanks in order to squeeze through, while also pulling along their precious cargo.Once they reached chamber three, it was time for the second phase. This took another few hours.

Each boy was secured in a stretcher, and carried by a team of at least five men. At one point they had to place the stretcher on a raft and pull it across a chin-high pool of water.Rescuers had to winch the boys up a steep slope using a pulley system. In some rocky areas they formed a human chain, passing the boys hand to hand, while at others they slid them on top of pipes pumping out water.
For diver Ivan Karadzic, the experience was extremely stressful. Stationed at a halfway point in the cave, he was responsible for replacing air tanks and guiding rescue divers through.Rescuers had to winch the boys up a steep slope using a pulley system. In some rocky areas they formed a human chain, passing the boys hand to hand, while at others they slid them on top of pipes pumping out water.

Diver Ivan Karadzic said it is not in any way normal for children to go cave diving at age 11.

For diver Ivan Karadzic, the experience was extremely stressful. Stationed at a halfway point in the cave, he was responsible for replacing air tanks and guiding rescue divers through.But they were cutting it close. By the time the last batch of boys and the coach were out, water levels were starting to rise again, as rapidly as 30cm in one hour, according to senior Navy SEAL Supachai Tanasansakorn.

It was Tuesday 10 July - the day that locals said the cave would become completely flooded.But while the boys were out, there were still people left on the rocky ledge deep inside Tham Luang - the Navy SEAL divers and medic who had looked after the Wild Boars, as well as Richard Harris, a famed Australian cave diving expert and doctor.

They emerged shortly after the last boy was taken out. It was not a moment too soon, as a pump suddenly stopped working - some said it failed while others said it was switched off.

Floodwaters rushed in, sending workers clearing up the site fleeing.As for the Wild Boars and Coach Ake, plans are afoot for them to shave their heads and spend a few days in a monastery. Their families believe this Thai Buddhist tradition will bless their lives, and cleanse them of an unfortunate experience.

"He is an experienced diver, which is a great benefit because he's brought all that expertise to assist the Thai government in this rescue mission."It was on his advice the first four boys were cleared to make the incredibly dangerous journey out of the flooded cave complex, emerging alive on Sunday.

One former colleague says there are very good reasons that British caving experts working with Thai authorities at the site asked for his help.

Bill Griggs used to be Dr Harris' boss at South Australia's emergency medical retrieval service, MedSTAR, where the anaesthetist still works.Dr Harris is well known in the cave diving community, including as the leader of record-breaking missions to explore a dangerous underwater cave system on New Zealand's South Island.
In 2011 and 2012, he led a team of Australian divers to record depths of 194 and 221 metres in what's believed to be one of the world's deepest cold water caves, searching for the source of the Pearse River.
He filmed the dangerous and complex mission for National Geographic.
It required the team to set up a series of survival pods at intervals to allow divers to decompress, rest and eat in the near-freezing waters along the length of an underwater river - an experience that could prove invaluable in the current rescue mission.

The Pearse Resurgence on the surface (Credit:

David Strike has known Dr Harris for more than 10 years and says his unique skill set gives the boys every chance of making it out.
"It's an over-used term, but all of those involved are true heroes," he said.

Speaking to the Knox Weekly newspaper four days before her disappearance, Ms Milowka spoke of her passion for exploring.
"In this day and age when you think that everything has been found and you don't even have to get off your chair to see the world, it's amazing to think there are still places human eyes have never seen before," she said.
"It's a phenomal feeling - the rush, the thrill of exploration, it totally hooked me."
Reflecting on the dangers of cave diving, she said she had experienced many close calls.
"Everything that could posibly go wrong for me has.

"I've been stuck in stupid places trying to push the envelope a bit, but when that happens you have three choices. You can panic and die, give up and die, or control your thoughts, feelings and emotions and give yourself the best chance of coming out alive."

Eagle's Nest cave in Florida casts a dangerous spell over even experienced divers. What makes these underwater caverns so captivating—and deadly?

Eagle's Nest is a large cave system on Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area property about the woods near Weeki Wachee. Considered the ‘Mount Everest’  or the ‘Grand Canyon’ of cave diving, the Eagle’s Nest is one of the most intricate and challenging dive sites one can dive. Hidden below it astounding depths of around 300 feet (91metres), the Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole in Florida has chambers as large as gymnasiums and crystal-clear water. Only for highly experienced cave divers and the technically sound, the descent the Eagle’s nest is similar to that of a chimney and hundreds of feet below it opens up into a large cavern called “the Main Ballroom”, beyond which are longer tunnels and crannies that go even deeper. “It’s like a Venus fly trap,” Sylvester Muller, vice-chairman of the National Speleological Society’s Cave Diving section said, “You get in there and there is so much to see you get distracted, and it gets deep quickly.”

This diving site is definitely not for the amatuer diver and is also very challenging for even a long time served technical professional. “You get in there and there is so much to see you get distracted, and it gets deep quickly.” Among the adventurers brave enough to explore these underwater caverns, Eagle’s Nest is considered one of the planet’s most dangerous dives for its extreme depths and mazelike architecture. It has been called the "Mount Everest" of cave dives. The cave has claimed ten lives since 1981 and it does not show any chance of giving up it's treacherous and deep perils.

As we rounded the last corner, and I feared our dive was nearing its end, I realized that we had one more opportunity to capture the essence of Eagles Nest.

Eagle's Nest Cave Dive January 11, 2017. Doing a test of the Underwater Light Dude LED video lamps. I mounted two 10K lumen lights to the nose of my Submerge Valkyrie scooter and shot with a GoPro, also mounted to the scooter itself, as Luke Alcorn and I went upstream along the gold line to the restriction at 2400'.Brandenburg Concerto No4-1 BWV1049 - Classical Whimsical by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license

There is just so much to see once a diver starts to dive and you should never be tempted to go that little bit furthur under any circumstances unless you are saving your buddy. Many diver has died doing that same thing, It is a very difficult situation to consider your own life over another but the other diver would want you to survive in a terrible situation.At first glance, it looks like any other old pond in the woods, but below lies one of the most awesome deep dives around. The basin slopes down like a funnel where a large solution tube and a couple of smaller ones lead into a massive cavern with a large debris mound. Following the slope of the mound down to depth of around 200', one encounters the "duck under" restriction of the downstream section of the cave. On the opposite side of the cavern, the walls and floor give way to the larger opening of the upstream section. Over 6000' feet of passage has been mapped, some at depths in excess of 300'. 

This is definitly an advanced site for divers who are trained and experienced in technical diving.This site is deep (310') and a very advanced dive. The NACD and NSS-CDS recommends that you have the following MINIMUM qualifications to dive:
Full Cave Certification
Trimix certification
Appropriate experience with deep cave dives
In addition it is highly recommended that first time divers go with someone familiar and experienced with the site. It took over a year to open Eagle's Nest, but accidents due to irresponsible divers could close it overnight. Lets all be safe and Eagle's Nest will be there, and open, when we are ready to dive it.            

As divers start to progress into the deep void they will come across a large sign. 125 feet below the surface, near the area known to divers as the Debris Cone, is a permanently posted sign with an image of the Grim Reaper  that warns divers "Not to go any Furthur" 

FACT More than 300 divers, including open water scuba instructions, have died in caves just like this one.
Fact: You needed training to dive, You need cave training and cave equipment to cave dive.
Fact: Without cave training and cave equipment, Divers can die here.
FACT: It CAN happen to YOU"

There's Nothing In This Cave Worth Dying For!
Do Not Go Beyond This Point.            

You as a diver may have done everything possible to ensure a safe dive and return, You have gone over and checked your equipment several times and all is good. Your dive plan is sound and your colleagues all know what they are doing when they join you, You have dived this site many times before but may want to go a bit furthur this time. Wait two divers died doing the exact same thing.

1 December 1981: Terri Collins, Jim Bentz
3 August 1990: Brent Potts
4 June 2004: John Robinson, Craig Simon
6 November 2009: James Woodall II
25 December 2013: Darren and Dillon Spivey
15 October 2016: Patrick Peacock and Chris Rittenmeyer
8 January 2017: Charles Odom    

Patrick Peacock left and Chris Rittenmeyer right, When police got there, they were met with a third diver, Justin Blakely, who had stayed closer to the surface as Peacock and Rittenmeyer explored the caves. The two were both experienced divers who had been to Eagle's Nest several times in the past, police said. 
Peacock and Rittenmeyer were found in a very dangerous and complex area of the cave system, police said. 

ON OCTOBER 16, three cave divers slipped into the water at Eagle’s Nest,Two of the men, Patrick Peacock and Chris Rittenmeyer, were experienced cave divers, and set off for deeper sections of the cavern, while their friend, Justin Blakely, explored an area closer to the surface. At 3 p.m., Blakely swam to their meeting point, but the others never showed up. He returned every half hour but there was no sign of his friends. By six o’clock, he called the police. After fruitless searches on Sunday evening, rescue divers found the bodies floating at a depth of 260 feet on the morning of October 17.    

Christopher Allen Christopher Allen Rittenmeyer, 38, of Plano, Texas died on Saturday October 15th as a result of a diving accident in North Florida. He and a diving partner were engaged in a technical cave dive, something they had done together many times in the same area. At this point, it is not known what caused the accident. Christopher was employed as a partner at Boston Consulting Group in Dallas, Texas, where he specialized in Digital Transformation and Technology serving clients across the world. He traveled extensively to China, Europe, London, Canada and the US serving many Fortune 500 clients. His commitment to the firm and his clients was commendable and he served both with commitment, pride and integrity. He and his wife Nicole lived in London, Hermosa Beach, Chicago and Florida during his years at BCG. Prior to joining BCG, he was an Associate Partner at McKinsey in their Chicago Office. Prior to McKinsey he served 7 years at Electronic Data Systems "EDS" in Plano rising to the position of Vice President and General Manager of the ExcellerateHRO business group. He lived in London and Dallas Texas during his years at EDS. Chris was a graduate of The Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas and The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. He completed his MBA at Kellogg School of Business in Evanston, Illinois. He was a Certified Cave Diver, PADI Dive Master, PADI Master Diver and a Certified Tech Diver. He was an avid golfer, snow and water skier, and sailor who loved the outdoors and all sports. He also held a black belt in Taekwondo. His love for diving was the one sport he cherished and the adventure and challenge was something he found fulfilling as an offset to his business life. Chris was a committed family man who spent time with his wife and cherished his weekends to connect with family and friends. He was creative, insightful and humorous. He lived life to its fullest and found something positive in every day he was with us. He is survived by his wife, Nicole, his parents Ron and Hedy Rittenmeyer and his sister and brother-in -law Ashley and Jayson Briggs. "He has been diving since he was 12 years old, and cave diving for a long time," Rittenmeyer’s father Ron said of his son. “Everything was fine [on Friday]. He told me about the next day’s dive; he felt great." Peacock was “not just an adventure seeker. He was a SCUBA instructor, an intellectual who loved reading and writing,” his wife Devrim added. They were both on JJ Rebreathers and had three scooters with them. They were supposed to be headed in one direction, but were found very close to the exit in the opposite direction. 

Two divers died exploring an underwater cave system in Florida known to be one of the world’s most beautiful but most dangerous diving sites.

The bodies of two divers have been recovered in Weeki Wachee. The Eagle's Nest, inside the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, has been the site of at least eight other diving deaths.

Eagle's Nest Upstream Dome Room

Here is a more in depth analysis of what equipment the divers were using and what might of happened to cause there deaths.

JJ-CCR Rebreather have Features Like bailout valve (BOV), axial scrubber with filter scrim kit, 22.5kg wing, backplate and adjustable harness etc.

1. Chris Rittenmeyer and Patrick Peacock started a dive at Eagle's Nest around 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 15, 2016. They were on JJ-CCRs with 95cf sidemount bailouts. Each diver had a scooter and an AL80 safety. They also towed a backup scooter. They had placed all their deco safeties in the cave the day before.

2. Chris and Patrick were both fully trained as Full Cave, Trimix, CCR, and DPV divers. Both divers had years of ocean and cave diving experience.

3. When the divers failed to return to deco at the anticipated time, their surface support buddy checked every 30 minutes until they were several hours overdue. Their buddy called Cave Country Dive Shop around 6:00 p.m. and spoke to Jon Bernot, who immediately loaded his vehicle and started driving to Eagle's Nest. While enroute, Jon called around and activated a response team of qualified and available cave divers.

4. Search Team 1, of Jon Bernot and Charlie Roberson, got underway around 11:00 p.m. to search the upstream passage, which was the dive plan according to the buddy. Team 1 checked the habitat and spotted three O2 bottles at 20 ffw, four 50% at 70 ffw, and two 120 bottles on the top of the mound, all of which were untouched. Team 1 noticed that the 120 bottles were on the downstream side of the line but decided to go ahead and check the upstream since that was believed to be the dive plan. Team 1 scoured the entire upstream all the way to the far reaches of the Green Room, King's Challenge, and all the large passage and rooms. When Team I failed to find anything upstream, they proceeded to check the Lockwood tunnel to no avail. Team 1 surfaced around 3:30 a.m.

Jon Bernot started diving in the lakes in Oklahoma as a teenager and became an instructor while attending the University of Oklahoma in 2005.

5. Search Team 2, of Ted McCoy and AJ Gonzales, got underway around 3:45 a.m. and headed downstream. They immediately found the two bodies on the exit side of the Pit in approximately 220-230 ffw. Team 2 fully documented the scene and took detailed notes for about 45 minutes before exiting.

6. Diver 1 was wearing his CCR but his bailouts were not in place. One empty 95 bailout was beside him and attached to his rig via a QC6 and the long hose was deployed. His loop was open and out of his mouth. The inhale side of the loop was crushed. He had 300 psi of O2 but no onboard diluent remaining. He did have a 13cf inflation bottle with gas remaining. He had no primary light head and his backup lights were not deployed. There was a single scooter near Diver 1 but it was unclipped and turned off.

Example Only - The DRIS Bailout Regulator Package comes complete with everything you need to get back to the surface safely, in the event of a bailout situation. It is ideal for CCR divers that require a bailout.

This Regulator Set includes:

1x DRIS Illusion Coldwater First Stages with Highland Din Caps
1x DRIS Illusion Reversible Second Stage with yellow front cover
1x Braided LP hose (Your choice of size)
1x Pony SPG
1x 3” Bolt Snap with Dive Rite Hose Clip Retainer
Ships fully assembled and ready to dive
Nitrox Ready

It also comes ready for use with higher oxygen content applications (100% Oxygen to 2400psi, 80% Oxygen to 3400 psi when new).

Off Board Kit for On board/Off Board Diluent to BOV

7. Diver 2 was only wearing a dry suit, mask and fins and was positively buoyant. He had a backup light clipped off and dangling out of his pocket. No other bottles were nearby.

When diving in a drysuit for the first time you will notice that it’s a bit tricky to control your bouyancy. This is because the dry suit has a big impact on bouyancy, and you can use the dry suit to control your bouyancy, along with your regular BCD.

Most dry suits have an inlet valve located on the chest, and an outlet valve on the left shoulder. Similar to your BCD you simply add gas to your dry suit to increase bouyancy by pressing the inlet chest valve, and let gas out to decrease bouyancy through raising your outlet shoulder valve.

8. A full AL80 safety was located just on the exit side of the Pit restriction in 270 ffw but was not easily seen on the way out. The primary light head with e/o cord was also located on the exit side of the Pit restriction. Their other full AL80 safety was located beside another team’s full safety just downstream of the jump to the Lockwood tunnel.

9. Two 95 bailouts were located just on the far side of the Pit. Both were empty.

10. Recovery Team 1 brought both bodies to the top of the Ballroom and Recovery Team 2 brought both bodies to the surface on Sunday afternoon.

11. Diver 2's CCR, a 95 bailout, and two scooters were located on Monday morning just outside the restriction to Revelation Space in the Room of Dreams. The CCR loop was closed and appeared to be fully operational. The 95 bailout was full. Diver 2 had video lights for a GoPro plugged into his canister light.

12. The gear recovery team of Jon Bernot and James Draker removed all the gear from the cave and turned it over to law enforcement on Monday, October 17, 2016.

The nature of accident analysis is that it's critical of those involved. However, friends, family, and those involved in the recovery have many raw emotions regarding this loss. I ask that you keep this in mind as you proceed with a thorough and professional accident analysis.

Safe diving,
Charlie Roberson"

Patrick Peacock, Chris Rittenmeyer
Both men were Full Trimix, Full Cave, Full DPV, and Full Rebreather certified. They were trying to go into a section of the nest that is extremely advanced. It involved going through a clay restriction with a line trap at a depth of 85m (280ft). Something went wrong, one of the two men abandoned his fully-functioning rebreather, and the other tried to tow the first one out. SOURCE: Washington PostNSS-CDS Accident Analysis Report

It sounds like one of the divers believed they could not get past the restriction so he took off his rebreather. The other diver was able to make it through with his CCR. Both divers then attempted to exit with one diver breathing off an LP95. 

There was some delay (possibly the lack of a rebreather made the diver buoyant and he had a difficult time staying off the ceiling). The delay, the depth, and the added stress caused both LP95s to be exhausted and in the process draining the other rebreather divers dil.

I wonder why they didn't scooter? Maybe combination silt out, buoyant buddy, restrictions?
Either way, it looks like both divers stuck together to the very end. And it would appear the leaving of the full 95 behind was a costly mistake.
There is obviously a bunch of speculation in this post, but the situation does remind me of a fundamental fact......Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
Stop, calm down, assess your situation, and develop a plan

It is only the 3rd divers word that they planned on diving upstream. All bottles were positioned for a down stream dive.

2. No dil means the diver can't dilute the pure O2 for his loop volume; It means he is breathing pure O2 at 200+ feet.

3. Ditching gear means panic? Possibly. Seeing claw marks or other signs might point to the degree of panic if there was any. The diver could have honestly believed he could't get through the restriction and removed his gear by choice. Given how everything was removed, and both divers were found so far away from the restriction. Diver obviously had an accelerated breathing rate, but doesn't point to full blown panic in my mind.

One thing a rebreather diver does not want on a dive is a flooded breathing loop. Water in the loop gets in the way of breathing and, worse, reacts with the scrubber chemicals to create an alkaline solution that is not at all nice to ingest or inhale. 
Positive- and negative-pressure tests are used to check that there are no leaks in the breathing loop before a dive. The former involves inflating the breathing loop of the rebreather until it is tight and waiting to see if it deflates. 
A negative-pressure test is the opposite, sucking all the air out of the loop until it crushes down, then waiting to see if any air leaks in.
A rebreather diver will have performed these tests when assembling the rebreather from scratch, so you are unlikely to see either on the boat. 
What you will see as a matter of good procedure is the diver putting a rebreather into a positive- or negative-pressure test while kitting up, as a final check that nothing has worked loose as the boat bounces about.
Which test is used depends on the rebreather and the owner. Rebreathers with counter-lungs inside the casing are easiest to check with a negative-pressure test. Where the counter-lungs are outside the casing, there is a choice. 
A positive-pressure test can be performed quickly by screwing down the dump valve and pressing the diluent button. 
A negative-pressure test is less likely to get in the way of putting the rebreather on while it is left in the test state. An added advantage is that less oxygen is needed to flush the loop and bring the ppO2 up when the rebreather is turned on.

Under normal conditions, a diver will metabolise between 0.7 and 1 litres of oxygen per minute. 
Suppose we are breathing air open-circuit at a Respiratory Minute Volume (RMV) of 20 litres per minute. 
At the surface this air will contain about 4 litres of oxygen and 16 litres of nitrogen. Of all this gas, 
we metabolise just 1 litre of the oxygen, and the remaining 19 litres are breathed out unused and effectively wasted. 
At 30m down we breathe 80 litres of air per minute, 79 being wasted. At 50m we waste 119 of the120 litres breathed per minute. Thats a lot of gas to carry just to bubble away.
A rebreather keeps the gas a diver breathes out, removes carbon dioxide, adds a little oxygen, and feeds it round again in a closed circuit, hence the term closed-circuit rebreather or CCR. The APD Inspiration is the most commonly used model.
The part of a rebreather that does all this is the breathing loop. Exhaled gas is stored in bags called counter-lungs. The exhale and inhale counter-lungs are connected by the scrubber canister, which contains chemical pellets that remove carbon dioxide. 
The counter-lungs are connected to the mouthpiece by wide-bore crinkly hoses, much wider than normal low-pressure hoses or a BC crinkly hose, so that breathing resistance is minimised.
Somewhere in all this will be oxygen sensors to monitor the partial pressure of oxygen (ppO2); a means of injecting oxygen to make up for what is breathed; and a means of injecting air (often referred to as diluent) to fill the loop as the diver descends. 
With all this capability, there is no reason to breathe only air. With an air diluent, a CCR can mix nitrox as it goes, giving the diver the ideal mix for the current depth. With a heli-air diluent (part-fill a pony with helium and top up with air), a CCR can mix trimix as it goes.

So, why is it necessary to differentiate between feet of sea water (fsw) and feet of fresh water (ffw)? Or meters?

Yeah yeah, sea water is 2.5% denser than fresh water. But we don't ever measure diving depth using a tape measure or a fathom line... we measure it using a depth gauge or a computer, which in turn measures the water pressure.

A given displayed depth would actually be slightly shallower in salt water, and slightly deeper in fresh water. But the pressure effect on our bodies (nitrogen loading, in particular) should be same at a given pressure, no matter what the absolute tape-measure depth.

Yes? Or what am I missing?

So why do computers, for instance, adjust (or have the capability to be adjusted) between fresh and salt water?


To be simplistic, the pressure that results from the weight of air in space, pushing against our bodies is called atmospheric pressure. As we descend in water this pressure increases. We all learned in Open Water class that when diving in Sea/Salt water, every 33 feet is equivalent to 1 atmostphere. And at the surface we are already at 1 atmosphere or ATA. So at a depth of 33 feet (FSW) we are at 2 atmospheres (ATA) We can use this formula for the math:

(FSW/33)+1=ATA Sea/Saltwater Formula

BUT when diving in Freshwater (FFW) we have to remember that it is about 3% less dense that Saltwater. To account for this, we measure each atmosphere (ATA) by 34 feet, rather than 33. So:


This correlation between depth and pressure is very dependant upon the type of water we are in, hence the reason for the setting on the computer. I think the big issue here becomes not so much how deep you dive, but how LONG you are at a given depth. Both are important, but the time seems to be the big factor here when your computer does it's calculations.

Mike Rushton
PADI DM 174448

Closed circuit Rebreather Dive Training

It's a very annoying gimmick. FFW/FSW are not measures of depth but measures of pressure just like mm of mercury. As divers, we could care less what the actual distance to the surface is, the only thing we care about is the pressure we are being exposed to. And since all of our tables and the numbers we've memorized are in FSW (e.g. MOD of EAN32 is 111 FSW), it would be silly to set your computer to FFW when you are in fresh water.

Personally, I wish I could find a computer that gave me my pressure in atmospheres. When I am 33' deep in salt water, I want it to read 2 ATA. Think about how easy it would make all the calculations, no more multiplying and dividing by 33. What is the PO2 of EAN 40 at 3 ATA? Well, its 1.2.

Ron Rittenmeyer says safety was always his son's priority when diving and his son had enough supplies for up to 15 hours when he went diving at Eagle's Nest, an underwater cave system in northern Florida. He was on the diving trip with Peacock and another man, Justin Blakely.

There have been 552 cave diving fatalities worldwide since 1950. In Florida, there have been 374 since 1950. Ninety percent of cave diving fatalities are caused by:
Lack of training or attempting dives beyond one's certification.
* Not reserving enough air to return to the surface.
* Failure to use a guide line to the surface.
* Wrong air mixture.
* Not enough flashlights.

"Proper training, have a contingency guide to reach open water and reserve two-thirds of your air for the exit," he said. "In the worst case, I want to get out."
Also, "Stay within the depth limits of the kind of [air] you're breathing. Helium is a much lighter gas, ... and it eliminates narcosis. No. 5, every diver in your party should have at least three lights, and if one diver in my group loses one light, the dive is called off. Nothing is worth risking life."
Most scuba divers must complete at least eight days of training beyond open-water certification before they are certified as cave divers, he said, adding that cave dives aren't times to be macho or a kamikaze.

Nitrox/Oxygen Analyzer

"But we don't think these guys were like that. Both knew what they were doing."
In addition to lights and scooters, he said, "Cave divers should have double air tanks and backup reels or lines."
He said Eagle's Nest is a beautiful cave that's not especially dangerous, "But anything that deep and long can be a bad thing. You need to stay within your comfort level. When that voice starts talking to you about not being in there, don't wait until it starts screaming.
Get Out!

8 Days of Cave Diver Training - The Movie

Florida requires no training or licensing to scuba dive; however, training and certification can be required by diving operations. There are four levels of training for cave diving, and open-water scuba diving certification is a prerequisite.

Single-Tank Cavern Diver
This beginner course develops minimum skills and focuses on safety.

Single-Tank Introduction
This develops basic skills and prepares the diver for short penetration dives using one air tank.

Apprentice Cave Diver
The focus is on dive planning and honing skills through actual dives. This level is not intended to prepare divers for all types of dives. Two tanks are used.

Full Cave Diver
This focuses on the execution and planning of more complex cave dives. Earlier techniques are refined, and underwater cave surveying is introduced.

Specialty Training
- Stage diving, use of multiple tanks
- Driver propulsion vehicle (Pilot is drawn by vehicle.)
- Side-mount diving (Tanks are worn on sides.)
- Cave surveying
- Cartography
- Recovery diver, trained to rescue divers and recover bodies
- Research diver, trained to collect scientific specimens
Compiled by MICHAEL MESSANO; Sources: National Speleological Society-Cave Diving Section, Jeffrey Bozanic, accident analysis director; National Association for Cave Diving; the International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery Team

On the 1st December divers discovered the body of James Bentz, 31, at the 250-foot level. On Monday they found the body of Terri Collins, 29, of Gainesville, 265 feet deep in the murky sinkhole.

An autopsy was ordered on Mrs. Collins, but authorities speculated she drowned after falling victim to nitrogen narcosis -- or 'rapture of the deep,' which affects divers using regular air instead of specially mixed gasses when operating at great depths.
Nitrogen narcosis results from a build up of too much nitrogen in the blood stream and causes a person to act irrationally, sometimes taking off his face mask or throwing away his air regulator.
Fellow divers said Mrs. Collins was using only compressed air when she went on the diving expedition with Bentz, her husband Larry, 28, and two other people.Collins said he and his wife had entered the water about 11:05 p.m. Saturday and were moving through a tunnel in the depths when his wife was distressed,


Warning sign for cave divers seeking to explore Eagles Nest Sink.

Collins said his wife was holding onto his foot as they moved through the tunnel and he had just turned round and gave her a thumb-and-finger okay sign and she tugged his leg affirmatively. Moments later she let go.
He said he turned and saw the air regulator was no longer in his wife's mouth. He tried to force it back in but she already was unconscious and he was unable to do so. He lost his hold on her and then lost sight of her.
Collins worked his way back toward the surface and encountered Bentz at the 70 foot level taking photographs. He said he signaled to Bentz that his wife was in trouble and then headed on to the surface while Bentz started deeper into the water in an apparent rescue attempt.

Bentz, manager of a diving shop in Crystal River, never surfaced.
A fellow diver at Crystal River said Bentz had been trying to quit cave diving and had been reluctant to go on the trip.He wanted to make one last dive,' said Ted Kennedy. 'I don't think he intended to go very deep, because I filled his tanks before he left and he only took a single tank. He left his double tanks here.

'He's the kind of guy that would help somebody even if he didn't have the right equipment,' Kennedy said.
Many divers deaths have been attributed to them trying to save another diver in distress, But this is human nature and should be tolerated. Jim Bentz, 32, was a trained rescue diver but drowned trying to save Terri Collins, 29, of Gainesville. To be certified in cave diving, people must take extra training beyond what's needed for open water scuba. 

Downstream dive to 'The Abyss' room in Eagle's Nest. Unfortunately the visibility was poor at 20-40 feet. 1.12.15

A diver who descends 200 feet beneath the surface of the water breathing air from a scuba tank is taking a big risk. Safety regulations for recreational divers limit them to 130 feet. Even specially trained scientific divers are required to stay above 190 feet or they lose their certification.  So, it’s risky, but it’s been done. Lots of divers have done it, included Jacques Cousteau who was one of the inventors of SCUBA equipment. Past 100 feet, nitrogen narcosis makes divers feel drunk and unable to make sound decisions.
Past 190 feet, Oxygen toxicity can cause them to convulse and die.  Period.  Pure oxygen is poisonous below six meters.  Divers carry it to shorten decompression times but only breath it when they're just below the surface. 

Last night at the 4th of July fireworks show, my wife and I met this guy who insisted he had dove to 210 feet on air only, using doubles, and he stayed down for 15 mins at 210 feet. He said they did some deco stops on the way up, and then hung at 10 feet for a long time breathing pure O2 from a manifold fed from the hip.

I have my doubts as to the voracity of his claims. Is it even possible to go to 210 feet on air?? I would think that bad things would happen at those depths. What do you guys think?Yes, it's possible. Before the introduction of Trimix, anyone doing deep diving beyond the recreational limits had to be on air. What the guy at the fire works show described is generally what happens if you dive that deep on air. Short bottom time, several deco stops and O2 at 10 feet. When diving that deep on air Narcosis can be a serious issue to safety. Plus, at depths deeper than 218 feet you have to start worrying about Oxygen toxicity. But the short answer is yes, it can, and has, been done.

On 4th June 2004, John H. Robinson Jr., 36, of St. Petersburg, and Craig Simon, 44, of Spring Hill, failed to resurface June 12 while diving there. Divers who volunteered to help the Hernando County Sheriff's Office found Robinson's body Sunday and Simon's body Monday.Lt. Joe Paez said the sheriff's office had to rely on volunteer divers because the bodies were at a depth of about 300 feet and about 1,100 feet into the caverns, the main part of which is shaped like an hourglass.One of the volunteer divers experienced problems after helping in the search and was taken to a hospital as a precaution, he added.

The IUCRR (International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery) is an international all-volunteer, not-for-profit public service and educational organization registered in the State of Florida.

The mission of the IUCRR is to support all Public Safety Agencies, and work within their Incident Command System, in the rescue and/or recovery of victims in an underwater-overhead environment (environments partially or fully underwater with an overhead obstruction such as caves, caverns, mine shafts, etc., and includes virtual overhead environments as well).

The all-volunteer IUCRR team consists of Regional Coordinators who are trained to work within the Incident Command system to assist law enforcement agencies -- at their request -- with the rescue and/or recovery of divers who have entered an underwater overhead environment, and not returned within their allotted time. Each Regional Coordinator is responsible for maintaining a current list of qualified recovery divers in their area. These divers must be certified by a recognized cave diving organization to dive in underwater overhead environments, and attend an IUCRR course before being placed on the call-out list for rescues/recoveries. They must be qualified to dive in the environments involved before they are put to use by the law enforcement agencies.
The IUCRR was founded in 1999, but it's origins began at the 1982 NSS-CDS (National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section) cave diving workshop, held in Branford, Florida. 

It is a beautiful system that can be like floating down [an 8-foot] diameter chimney into a room that could practically swallow half an arena [like the Tampa Ice Palace]. Going through the system would be similar to walking through the darkened sports arena with little but a handheld flashlight ...''

Divers found the body of James Woodall II, 39, on 6th November 2009, about 500 feet from the entrance to the Eagle's Nest cave in about 270 feet of water, said Hernando County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donna Black. Woodall and Gregory Snowden, 34, came from Kentucky to dive at Eagle's Nest, a vast underwater cave system in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area northwest of Weeki Wachee. Snowden told deputies they had traveled about 500 feet from the cavern entrance when Woodall began to experience trouble with his scuba tank about 1:30 p.m. When he was unable to help his dive partner,The divers had been more than 270 feet below the surface and were 500 feet upstream from their destination, so time was critical for James Woodall to get his breathing gear working properly.
During his struggle, Woodall pushed his friend into a pile of sand, which covered his mask. By the time Snowden regained his sight of Woodall, it was too late,  Snowden returned to the surface to summon aid.
He reached the surface at 6 p.m. because of time for decompression, the sheriff's office said. Neither was a certified cave diver, Black said. The sheriff's office had to summon specialized volunteer divers experienced in cave diving to recover Woodall's body. The cave system has proven deadly for divers in the past, even for divers trained to explore the mazes of Florida's underwater caves. Craig Simon, 44, of Spring Hill, and John Robinson, 36, of St. Petersburg, drowned in the cave system in June 2004. Both were experienced and certified cave divers with the proper equipment for the complex dive, including scooters to pull them rapidly and the right mixture of air in their tanks. They were found about 1,100 feet into the cavern in water about 200 feet deep.     

At 1:30 p.m. on Sunday 8th January 2017, Hernando County 911 dispatchers  received a call about an unresponsive diver in the water at the Eagle's Nest dive area, which is located at 7199 Cortez Boulevard in Weeki Wachee.
Patrol deputies and fire-rescue units were immediately dispatched to the scene. Deputies say the person who made the call jumped into the water to get the unresponsive diver out of the water and tried to resuscitate the diver. Dispatchers learned that two additional divers were still in the water.
Hernando County Fire-Rescue crews arrived and pronounced the male diver, identified as Charles Odom, deceased.
Investigators later found out that Odom had met up with Kevin Lura, Evan May, and Christopher Jones at a nearby Hardee's at 9:40 a.m. Sunday morning.
All four drove their own vehicles to Eagle's Nest and began to set up their diving equipment, which took about 90 minutes.  

All four divers then entered the water and were testing their gear, when May experienced a malfunction with his gear and got out of the water.Odom, Lura, and Jones continued the dive while May made some phone calls to scuba centers about his equipment.  May then packed up his gear and began loading it into his vehicle.On his last trip to the water to retrieve his gear, May saw a body floating in the water.  May immediately jumped in and pulled Charles Odom out of the water.  Odom was unresponsive.Kevin Lura, who was underwater with Odom, told deputies that the divers explored the "ballroom" which is in the Eagle's Nest cave system and that Odom led the way out.  At this point, the divers began to notice that Odon was in distress.At about 100 feet, the divers observed Odom to go "limp."  They immediately sent him to the surface.  The remaining divers both had to decompress and come up slowly.The sheriff's office said that Odom's dive gear and computer will be inspected to determine if it was functioning properly.His body will also be sent for an autopsy.

Cenote Calavera (Skull Cenote which is also known as the Temple of Doom) is located 2 km west of the intersection of highway 307 and the Coba/beach road on the northeast side of Tulum pueblo. A very popular scuba diving location for those accredited with cave diving certification, Cenote Calavera is located only 5 km from the Caribbean Sea, to which it´s current flows.

Date : August 17th 1995 – Location : Sistema Temple of Doom

Victim : Two open water divers and a female

This tragic accident began as a dive store organized trip from Cozumel. The store owners had   received inquiries about cenote diving from customers. They decided to schedule a trip and hire a local Divemaster who had previously lived in the village of Tulum and was familiar with the local cenotes.

Temple Of Doom Cenote , Mexico . Calavera, which is Spanish for Skull, is the first cenote you come to on the Coba Road 5 minutes from Tulum. The cenote gets its grim name from the 3 circular openings in the roof of the cave that resemble the eye sockets and mouth of a skull when viewed from above. Calavera is also known as Temple of Doom, the name of the cave system that it was once a part of. Sistema Temple of Doom was connected to Sistema Sac Actun in 2007 and is now a part of that gigantic cave system rather than a separate cave system in its own right.

He was not certified in cavern or cave diving, nor was he a ‘qualified’ guide. With five paying customers, the group traveled to the Gran Cenote located five kilometers from Tulum. The group of eight made the dive and thoroughly enjoyed the dive without incident. The spectacular beauty. shallow depths and crystal clear warm water had everyone enthusiastic and the ‘hook of trust’ was now in place with their guide.

They decided to drive down the road to the Cenote Temple of Doom (known locally as Cenote Esqueleto) and make a second dive. Entering the cenote, the divemaster’s overconfidence took control and instead of taking the group on the traditional cavern tour, which consists of a 360 degree permanent guideline (all easily within the sight of natural daylight), he took the group of eight into the passage known as the ‘Madonna’ and into the cave system. The last member of the group (The male owner of the divestore) became very stressed, bailed out. and returned to the surface.

Cenote Calavera- Richie Schmittner and Jeff Clark - Underwater cave out takes from a 2011 Japanese production (TV Asahi) Richie and Jeff dive and light beautiful Cenote Calaveras of the Sac Actun System in Mexico

This passage is very large and brilliantly white making it very easy to swim and follow a guideline. The group continued further into the cave with the divemaster leading.

After swimming approximately 250 Feet/75 meters in, two members of the group became very uncomfortable and turned around to exit. The divemaster was totally unaware of this. Further into the cave the three remaining members became stressed, not knowing how far they were from the cenote and were now getting low on air.

The Temple of Doom (cenote Calavera), is completely different from other caverns in the area. The input passes through a circular hole in the rock surface and the adventure begins almost immediately as you have to jump about 3 meters to the water surface. The area of ​​the cave is a huge room with a pile of collapsed sediment and rocks in the center. During the dive, divers make their way around the hill, diving at different depths along the walls of the cenote. There is enough light in the cave and many fossils to be discovered. Look towards the entrance and imagination can recognize the “Skull”. The light passing through holes in the sky creates an effect of two eyes and a mouth. Its awesome to whitness the effects of the halocline where the fresh water mix with the salt water.

Confusion and stress contributed to the situation as everyone was now desperately trying to swim back to the cenote. The three victims ran out of air at the beginning of the ‘Madonna’ passage. The divemaster managed to make it back to the surface and obtained the scuba tank from the dive store owner who bailed out at the start of the dive.

Returning to the ‘Madonna passage the divemaster found two divers dead brings the wife of the divestore owner back to the surface. They were able to get her out of the cenote and rush her to the Red Cross station in Tulum where she died. This information was obtained through local police officials.

A Typica (Cenote) South America

Swimming at Cenote Calavera, Tulum, Mexico

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