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Cave Divers in Florida ran out of air, says report



On the evening of the 25th December 2013, rescue divers found Darrin Spivey’s lifeless body floating 120 feet below the surface of Eagle Nest Sink, a popular spot for cave divers in Florida. His regulator was out of his mouth and dangling between his legs, according to a recovery diver’s interview with Detective Jill Morrell of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

His body was above two reserve tanks, according to the three divers who recovered the bodies of Spivey, 35, and his 15-year-old son, Dillon Sanchez.

The sheriff’s office released the findings of an investigation into Spivey and his son’s deaths last week.

According to the report, they died accidentally after their tanks ran out of oxygen.

The diver’s equipment showed they dived down to 233 feet using air alone in their tanks. According to rescue diver Eric Deister, the men should have been using a trimix combination for their breathing supply, not air alone. Deister told investigators Spivey and Sanchez should not have ventured lower than 218 feet on the air supply they took with them due to toxic effects.

The divers believe Spivey and Sanchez, neither of whom were certified cave divers, lost track of time while exploring the caverns at Eagle Nest Sink. Spivey was a certified open water diver, and his son did not have any diving certifications whatsoever.

Because Spivey’s air hose was not in his mouth, the divers thought Sanchez ran out of air, and his father attempted to give him air using a “buddy breathing” technique.

“They (the rescue divers) further stated that they believed that Dillon panicked and attempted to swim to the surface, as he did not have his mouthpiece intact and his mask was around his neck,” the report states.

Sanchez’s body was found 67 feet below the surface.

After the divers were pulled out of the water, the rescue divers and investigators found their tanks had run out of air. Batteries from their light sources had stopped working as well.

According to Spivey’s fiancee, Holly King, Spivey and Sanchez left before 7 a.m. Christmas morning to go diving at Buford Spring, also located in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, but found it flooded. Spivey sent a text message to King, telling her they would dive Eagle Nest, and that he would call her after.

The divers were last seen by a hunter around 11 a.m., suiting up and preparing to dive. King called law enforcement around 3 p.m. when she hadn’t heard from them, and drove out to the sinkhole cave site an hour later. She spotted their vehicle, and began contacting family members, the report shows.

Between 9 and 10 p.m., three rescue divers recovered Spivey and Sanchez’s bodies.

The men had the proper equipment to dive, but not the experience and training, according to experts.

Law enforcement did not test the air quality of the tanks, the report shows, because the medical examiner said the test results would not change the cause and manner of deaths in the case.

Spivey was a Hernando High School graduate who worked as a roofer. He was remembered as a “super father” to his children, according to his father, Chester Spivey.

Sanchez was a Hernando High School student in the ROTC program, and aspired to become a Navy SEAL.

Eagle Nest Sink does not check diver certifications. Reaching depths of 300 feet, the diving spot has been called the “Mount Everest” of cave dives. In the weeks following the accident, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse said the FWC had received one request to close the diving spot (from Chester Spivey) and many requests to keep it open.



Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support



With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Jeff chats to… Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Watch Video)



In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Craig is a Key Grip and Lighting Director with 10,000s of hours of Set Experience.

In Craig’s own words:

I started my career when I was in my first year of college.  I always had that creative side of the brain that needed to be followed as a career.  I thought that would be in designing engineering pieces but wasn’t happy about the idea of an office cubicle and drafting table.

I accidentally found my way onto a big commercial job for a week and decided “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO”.   I made it my career after that. This is a quick list of recent and big projects in my 35 yrs of TV / Film / Photography.

Most Recently:

  • “Black Panther 2” – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • “Stranger Things” Season 4 – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • “Suicide Squad 2” – UW Gaffer / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • NASCAR / FOX Sports 1 – Network TV Lighting Director – 7 years / 700 races of Live BIG track TV shows
  • 10,000s of commercials / music videos / tv shows

I started diving when I was 18 years old with my OW and then AOW with PADI. I was diving with lots of friends in the late 80s and early 90s and then moved onto Kayaking. I got my daughter into diving when she turned 14 and have picked up where I left off.

I have approx 5000 dives now and spend most of my free time diving.

Here are my certs:

  • OW – AOW 1989
  • Adv Nitrox / Deco 2020
  • Cavern – Intro Cave 2021
  • CCR Tech – Fathom – 2021

You can find out more at

Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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