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Boulder Foils Plan to Explore Underwater Cave

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In 1976, two college students died while exploring the “Blue Hole,” an underwater cave connected to a deep lake in Santa Rosa, N.M. Shortly thereafter, local officials poured rubble and boulders into the bottom of the pool and sealed it off with a grate to prevent any more amateur divers from entering the cave. The ploy worked — all too well.

Beginning this past Friday, a team of experienced divers attempted to enter the cave and map it for the first time, although rough sketches of the cave were made by police divers in the 1970s, said Walter Pickel, part of the current team.

The team spent several days excavating the rubble and removing the gate, and one diver was able to get into an “antechamber” about the size of a car’s front seat. But a large boulder kept the explorers from entering the cave, said Pickel, a diver and logistics officer for Advanced Diver Magazine. A connection into the larger cave was made, but the passageway is too small to crawl through, he said.

“We can see into it; it’s taunting us,” Pickel said. “But it’s impassable.”

However, there was some upside — the excavation has allowed more water to flow from underground into the Blue Hole, which pours into a spillway that provides water for local farmers. “That made them happy,” Pickel said. Now that water is flowing more quickly, the lake has also become more clear, since the current carries away sediment more quickly, he said.

“With respect to the cave exploration, our team was disappointed,” he said. “But you have to find a silver lining.”

The lake is actually a type of artesian well, in which pressurized water seeps up from below, said Richard Delgado, the tourism director for the city of Santa Rosa. Delgado said he wagers it’s connected to other caves in the area, which is known for having several deep lakes consisting of flooded caverns.

The ADM team travels to caves around the world, often getting permission from private landowners to enter their caves. In return, ADM makes maps of what’s inside them, Pickel said. The team has no concrete plans to explore the Blue Hole cavern again, but Pickel said they might come back if the town gets funding to remove the boulder blocking the way. The team next hopes to explore a cave in Belize.

The Blue Hole was formerly a sinkhole caused by the dissolution of underground limestone and gypsum, according to the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. Many of the area’s caves and sinkholes were formed by the same process. Groundwater is plentiful in the region, as it lies on the western edge of the Ogallala Aquifer, Delgado said.

Gear News

Fourth Element announce Tech Fins inspired by whale tail

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A classic vented dive fin, engineered by nature and redesigned to maximise performance.

Fourth Element’s new Tech Fins have taken inspiration from nature and evolution to optimise efficiency. The turbulence disruptors on the top of the blade work in the same way as the nodules of the leading edge of a humpback whale fin, which disrupt the water as they move through it. The resulting turbulence enables the whale to swim with more efficiency. Fourth Element has adopted this evolutionary concept to improve the performance of this classic fin.

Utilising natural rubber in a unique density gradient, the dive fin delivers an ultra- comfortable foot pocket combined with optimised stiffness for finning performance.

The vented design allows water to flow along the blade reducing drag and fatigue, whilst the stiffening rails and ribs ensure that the blade of the fin is driven through the water to maximise the return on effort.

The Tech Fins, with a slightly negative buoyancy characteristic, were developed with technical divers in mind but are suitable for all levels of diver looking for a high-performance rubber fin. The wider blade gives manoeuvrability without compromising the power, while the shorter length improves agility and makes stowing the fins for transport more convenient. Spring straps with comfortable heel pads keep the feet securely held in place. These straps can be removed and changed easily with everyday tools if required.

The Tech Fins are supplied with a hanging/carrying strap and a marine quality bolt snap which may be used to attach them to a bcd or harness for carrying, leaving both hands free for climbing ladders or carrying other gear.

The natural rubber material of this fin is extremely durable, and all components are recyclable at end of life.

The Tech Fins are available in M, L, XL and XXL. These fins will fit sizes 4 (US5) to 14 (US15) and come in Black, Grey or Aqua.

Features

  • Natural rubber heel strap
  • Stainless steel spring strap
  • Soft foot pocket
  • Hydro-flow vents
  • Turbulence disruptors
  • Strengthening ribs
  • Stiffening lateral rails

Find out more here.

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Discover the Best of Belize with Dive Worldwide

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This June marks the 25th anniversary of the Belize Barrier Reef becoming a World Heritage Site! To celebrate, Dive Worldwide have rounded up their top trips to Belize which includes a resort-based stay, a liveaboard special and a twin-centre with neighbouring Guatemala – perfect for soaking up some culture. 

Reefs, Atolls & Mayan Ruins

The only English speaking country in Central America, Belize is warm, welcoming and offers unbelievable adventures. This gem has plenty for divers from incredible nature and topside activities to magical diving opportunities. Belize has the second longest barrier reef in the world and three of the four atolls in the western hemisphere making it a popular choice for divers.

If you missed the Dive Worldwide Belize talk in January you can catch up here.

Belize Discovered

Spend a week diving the remarkable barrier reef from Ambergris Caye before enjoying a few nights exploring the jungle with its Mayan ruins and caves.

Underwater there’s plenty on offer, with canyons, drop offs and swim throughs in addition to a unique topography and relatively easy conditions. You’ll be accompanied by a kaleidoscope of reef fish as you marvel at the array of sea fans and sponges adorning the seabed. Highlights include nurse shark, stingray, grouper, angelfish, turtle and dolphin. 

You then head off-the-beaten-track in land where you stay at an eco lodge in the heart of the Belizean jungle. Here there are a multitude of activities on offer including hiking and cave tours or you can immerse yourself in Mayan culture and visit a number of nearby ruins for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Departs: Jan-Dec

Duration: 13 days

Price from: £2,945 per person

Belize Liveaboard

Dive the Lighthouse and Turneffe Atolls from a liveaboard and experience the very best diving Belize has to offer. Located in the Lighthouse Reef there will be the opportunity to dive the Great Blue Hole. This atoll is full of marine life with angelfish, Creole wrasse, butterflyfish, barracuda and sponges found here.

Turneffe is the largest of the three atolls and offers a mixture of shallow reefs and sheer walls with a variety of reef fish and beautiful underwater scenery. Turtle, eagle ray, reef shark, snapper and jacks live on the healthy reefs. Dive sites of note include Half Moon Caye – another UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Painted Wall where you can find macro subjects such as ghostfish, crabs, blennies and invertebrates.

Departs: Jan-Dec

Duration: 10 days

Price from: £3,475 per person

Guatemala & Belize

Begin your holiday with some topside cultural discovery in Guatemala. This country packs a punch with its colonial architecture, Mayan ruins nestled in the verdant green jungle and stunning vistas. Don’t miss a visit to Lake Atilan, widely renowned for being one of the most beautiful lakes in the world with its volcanoes, thermal springs and incredible sunrises.

After a few days in Guatemala it’s time to go diving in Belize! Explore the barrier reef and spend time diving the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Blue Hole – the largest of its kind in the world and one of the top reasons to visit Belize. Here the waters are crystal clear, the topography is impressive with large coral and rock formations and the marine life is prolific with reef and black-tip shark in addition to large grouper.

Departs: Jan-Dec

Duration: 14 days

Price from: £3,495 per person


If you want to experience the world class diving and topside highlights of spectacular Belize, contact the Dive Worldwide Team.

All prices are per person and include flights from the UK, liveaboard or accommodation, diving, most meals and airport transfers.

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Competitions

A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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