Cave diving is underwater scuba diving in caves, which are at least partially filled with water. The equipment used varies depending on the circumstances, with dives using twin tank configuration with isolation manifolds, side-mounted tanks may allow divers to pass through tight restricted passages or easy logistics in entering difficult cave systems or rebreathers to extend the duration of the dive by several hours. Cave diving is generally considered to be a type of technical diving due to the lack of ability to surface during large parts of the dive, and often involves decompression and extensive logistical support and formal training to make such dives.

Cave diving is considered one of the most challenging and potentially dangerous kinds of diving and presents many hazards, these can be avoided and planned for in seeking proper training and gaining experience slowly to avoid common mistakes like becoming lost, running out of gas and panicking inside the cave.

The underwater navigation through the cave system may be difficult and exit routes may be a considerable distance, requiring the diver to have sufficient breathing gas to make the journey back to the surface. The dive may also be deep, resulting in potential deep diving risks.

Visibility can vary from nearly unlimited to low, or non-existent, and can go from one extreme to the other in a single dive. While this may sound terrifying to the untrained cave diver with multiple drills practicing zero visibility skills following correctly marked guidelines it is possible to exit in these difficult circumstances all of which is learned during formal cave diver training.

Cavern diving does not take divers beyond the reach of natural light (and typically no deeper than 100 feet or 30m. Full cave dives can involve long penetrations of many thousands of feet/meters, well beyond the reach of daylight. The level of darkness experienced creates an environment impossible to see in without an artificial form of light.

Some caves around the world have strong water currents or flow as it is referred to making planning and safe execution a must. Most caves emerge on the surface as either springs or siphons. Springs have out flowing currents, where water is coming up out of the Earth and flowing out across the land’s surface. Siphons have in-flowing currents where, for example, an aboveground river is going underground. Some caves are complex and have some tunnels with out-flowing currents, and other tunnels without flowing currents. If currents are not properly managed, they can cause serious problems for the diver.

Cave diving has been considered as one of the more deadly sports in the world. This perception is arguable because the vast majorities of divers who have lost their lives in caves have either not undergone specialized training or have had inadequate equipment for the environment. Cave divers have suggested that cave diving is in fact statistically much safer than recreational diving due to the much larger barriers imposed by experience, training, and equipment required. There is no reliable worldwide database listing all cave diving fatalities.

Cave diving does require a commitment to your diving, mastering skills such as buoyancy control, balance, trim, propulsion techniques and many other skills are just part of becoming a cave diver, only after many hours in a cave system can one truly say they are a cave diver as graduating from your cave class only provides you with the basic tools to enter a cave safely. Many progressive dives in differing equipment setups with teams of liked minded individuals allows you to cave dive successfully. Cave diving like all other areas of diving has differing levels from those looking to enjoy a simple cavern tour here in Mexico to extreme sides of cave diving spending multiple days living inside the cave to explore deep into the earth, there really is something for everyone that is unless you are afraid of the dark and small spaces then maybe best to stick to swimming with the pretty fishes, only joking never try never know, but please ensure if you decide to go cave diving ensure you get proper training and go slowly, check out your guides and instructors experiences and remember you can always so no.

Safe diving and Cave diving!

Mathew Partridge
Technical and Cave Diving Instructor Trainer

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