Divers Explore Mysterious Underwater Cave in New Mexico
In 1976, two students died while exploring the “Blue Hole,” an underwater cave connected to a deep lake in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Shorty thereafter, police divers collected the students’ bodies and made rough, incomplete sketches of the first part of the cave.
After that, the entrance to the cave was covered with a grate to prevent anybody else from getting in, and since then, nobody has entered it — until now.
On Friday (Sept. 13), the grate that seals off the cave was opened to a special team of divers from the ADM Exploration Foundation to explore what lies beyond. Divers from the group, which has explored thousands of caves in the Americas, will produce a detailed map of the Blue Hole cavern, as well as take video of the expedition to make into a documentary, said Walter Pickel, a diver and logistics officer for Advanced Diver Magazine.
Although police divers made measurements in the ’70s suggesting that the cavern is about 225 feet (70 meters) deep, it’s not known how far back it goes, or if it gets deeper, 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 are known for having several deep lakes consisting of flooded caverns and artesian wells, in which pressurized water seeps up from below.
“We really have no idea what exists beyond the grate,” Delgado continued.
As the divers explore the cave they will carry a long line with them. The line measures how far they gone and how far apart certain landmarks are. The direction, or bearing, of the line is also recorded, Pickel said. These measurements, along with high-definition video, will allow them to recreate and make drawings of the cave, he said. A collaborating cartographer will use other methods to measure the caves’ dimensions, he added.
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 “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.
New Fins from Scubapro
Continuous development and innovation have always been a top priority for Scubapro. The new Seawing Supernova high performance fin, introduced at boot 2023, is currently revolutionising the dive fin market.
Now, Scubapro is implementing its new innovative two-piece design to another fin model – the new S-Tek Fin. Furthermore, the company is launching the Gorilla version of the GO Sport in two colours and four new colours of the popular GO Travel Fin!
NEW – S-TEK FIN
A new addition to Scubapro’s S-Tek line of technical diving equipment, the S-Tek Fin is a purpose-built, next-gen technical diving fin providing maximum power when needed and featuring the innovative two-piece design like the Seawing Supernova.
NEW – GO SPORT GORILLA in Black & Orange
While identical in design to the GO Sport Fin, the Gorilla features a slightly stiffer blade and heavy-duty bungee, providing that extra umph for experienced divers manoeuvring through demanding conditions.
NEW – Available in black & orange.
NEW – GO FIN in 4 new colours
The GO travel fin combines the benefits of an open heel fin, with the comfort and barefoot freedom of a full foot fin. The GO is lightweight yet virtually indestructible, plus it is a fast and nimble performer in the water. The popular leisure fin is now available in the new colours blue, yellow, pink, and turquoise.
More information available on www.scubapro.com.
Philippines Fun-Size: Critters and macro life
Guest Blog By Cath Bates
Instructor and Sales Consultant Cath, from Dive Worldwide, gives a rundown of some of the top areas for macro life in the Visayas region of the Philippines.
The volcanic and tectonic activity around the western Pacific Ocean has formed a nutrient-rich environment for some of the strangest marine critters to call their homes.
The Visayas region is within the central part of the Philippines – a colony of islands that are very easy to get around, with Luzon and Mindoro to the North, and Mindanao to the South. Although many divers rave about this being Big Fish Country (thanks to the thresher sharks of Malapascua and the whale sharks of Oslob and Donsol), it is also a macro diver’s paradise.
The diversity within this area of the Coral Triangle means that within a few days you can go from diving steep walls, being cushioned by sea grass beds, hovering over sandy plateaus, or getting lost amongst hard coral heads, to suddenly being cuddled by lush, fluffy coral colonies.
Pygmy Seahorses, Mandarin Fish and more in Bohol and Anda
Anda (on the eastern side of Bohol) has a coastline that is 15 kilometres of incredible biodiversity. Dive sites are between 5 and 45 minutes away from your resort house reef. Seahorse Point and Pygmy House dive sites are home to Pygmy seahorses that balance delicately on their bendy sea fan hosts. No bigger than 2.7 centimetres in length, the pink Bargibanti and yellowish Denise are protected by the Pygmy Seahorse Code of Conduct, displayed in all good dive centres.
The island of Bohol also has nudibranchs on steroids and carpet flatworms patterned with psychedelia that would make even the most open-minded hippy have a weird trip! Night dives reveal sea pens, swimming crabs, sand eels and egg cowrie.
At dusk you can enjoy the Mandarin fish courtship dance. This is a flamboyant event with two of the most colourful fish in the sea, whose names come from the dress of the Imperial Chinese Mandarin. The female Mandarin fish is joined at the pelvic fin by a male that she has deemed worthy of her attention. At rocket speed, they swim from their rubble or staghorn coral habitat high up in the water column to release hundreds of eggs and sperm.
Out-of-this-world Shrimps, Crabs and Lobsters in Moalboal
The Tanon Strait connects the Visayan Sea to the Bohol Sea. This is where you will find the island of Moalboal (meaning bubbling water). Best known for the dramatic drop offs of Pescador island and local sardine baitball, Moalboal also has a vast array of macro dive sites.
At Copton Point, Peacock mantis shrimps scuttle about, changing direction the way Austin Powers drives his luggage cart, and Kasai Wall’s hairy orangutan crabs duck and dive in bubble anemone like they are in a child’s ball pool. Masters of disguise, the crinoid shrimp and squat lobster cling motionless to their spikey homes, avoiding being dive-bombed by hungry reef fish.
At Fish Feeding (where they don’t of course feed the fish) Tozuma shrimp and Xeno crabs adorn whip corals like bosses, and punkish candy crabs decorate themselves with broccoli coral hats.
Masters of camouflage in Dumaguete/Dauin
Negros Island has the Sulu Sea to the west and Cebu to the East. This is a mountainous province, and Negros Oriental’s capital city Dumaguete is known as the “City of Gentle People”. There is a narrow channel between it and the island of Cebu, as well as the deep Negros trench. Such topography can only mean good things for divers! The Dauin coastline boasts some of the best critter diving in the region.
At Secret Corner in octopus season (October to December) you can expect to see blue ring, Mototi, wonderpus and algae octopus crawling stealth-like over the sand. These are camouflage masters who occasionally flash colour and cut some textured shapes to warn or to decorate. You may even be lucky enough to witness mating within this period.
During Frogfish February you can see all the usual suspects like painted, hairy and sargassum as well as pin-head sized juveniles. The Atmosphere Resort and Spa house reef has a vibrant yellow guy who has even been filmed for television!
Shaun the Sheep is a loveable name given to the Costasiella kuroshimae sea slug. Not much bigger than a grain of sand, the likeness to a certain plasticine animation is uncanny. They graze on a leaf-like algae, containing chlorophyll, and are otherwise known as the “sap-sucking” sea slug because of this. Take a magnifying glass with you to catch a better glimpse of these cute creatures.
Colourful Critters in Malapascua
Famous for its larger “shoals”, Malapascua also has some exquisite reefs and seamounts that are teeming with macro life. Along the white sandy coastline are hidden muck sites that many pelagic-lovers wouldn’t even know were there. Even on the shipwrecks around Malapascua, you can find the world of the tiny: shrimp patrolling the holds, schooling glassfish shielding gangways and bright mauve Hypselodoris laying their egg skirts.
The pinnacle known as Bugtong Bato is home to various types of frogfish, nudis and carpet anemone, keeping crabs and anemone shrimp safe from the current.
Chocolate island, to the south-west in the Visayan Sea, is a popular night dive location where double-snouted spindle cowrie, flatworms and banded boxer shrimp clock in for the night shift on a background of pulsating soft corals.
Gato Island is a grassy seamount poking out of the sea 45 minutes north-west of Malapascua. The island is well known for its swim-throughs and overhangs where you can expect to find Pharaoh cuttlefish, thorny seahorse and broad-banded pipefish. It also sounds like a cake, which is a winning formula for most divers!
Diving holidays for macro, muck and critter lovers
Below are some inspirational trip ideas from the Dive Worldwide website for getting to the best macro meccas in the Philippines. Not all the dive sites are beautiful to the eye at first glance, like muck and rubble, but what lies within them are some of the most vibrant and fascinating creatures you ever did see!
Discover the Visayas
This popular itinerary includes dives in Malapascua, Monad Shoal and the Moalboal peninsula.
Access some of the best diving locations in the Philippines by liveaboard, including Dauin, Balicasag, Pescador and Malapascua.
Island Hopping Dive Safari
A stress-free diving adventure exploring stunning islands in the Visayas. An excellent choice for viewing macro life and pelagics.
Magic Dive Experience
Experience the magic of the Philippines! This trip combines two dedicated dive resorts in the Visayas – expect superb reefs, turtles, and exceptional macro life.
Dive Into Luxury
A luxury island-hopping itinerary, spending five nights in two of the Visaya region’s finest dive resorts – Atmosphere Resort & Spa and Amun Ini.
If you are interested in any of these trips, please get in touch with the friendly team of travel consultants and diving experts at Dive Worldwide or call 01962 302 087. You can also subscribe to Dive Worldwide’s regular enewsletter.
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