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 http://www.agnesmilowka.com/
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.