Humans were always fascinated by the dark underground openings and passages of caves, and in the beginning of course with the lack of having diving equipment they were trying to explore dry sections of caves. Sometimes dry cavers hit a water-filled part of the cave, the exploration was over.
Early as 1777 there where breath hold attempts to traverse such sumps by French cavers.
In 1878 Henry Fleuss developed a self-contained diving unit which was much practical than at the time known heavy diving dresses. With the wide-spreading of Cousteau’s aqualung already in 1950’s US divers started to visit underwater caves.
In the 60’s cave exploration increased, with many thousand feet of new passages in Florida caves leading to many new gear inventions.
Cave diving exploration exploded to new levels in the 70’s. Cave diving pioneer Sheck Exley and Jochen Hasenmayer were hitting depth records.
In the 80’s and 90’s as divers were able to penetrate further into caves with new equipment and techniques, this was the time of the birth of mixed gas diving and the rebreathers. These new procedures have been implemented by DIR divers: Main, Gavin and English. Later the WKPP has grown larger and they were able to develop their own long range scooters and rebreather which led to many World record dives.
We moved to Mexico in 2017 with the intention to expand our knowledge and experience of the famous caves of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Without much information about the local cave systems we started to venture and learn the different cave systems, which meant also to learn the different lines, navigation and complexity and spending days in the same cave in order to draw a proper stick map of them.
As our awareness expanded and we had more experience we got really excited about looking for unexplored, pristine cave passages. The first periods of our explorations ended usually after a short distance, connecting back to existing lines or hitting the opposite walls.
These “unsuccessful” experiences helped us to understand the complexity of Mexican caves and to realize that survey is the key element of cave exploration.
We are highly motivated in knowing more about caves, how far they extend, where they are going, how complex they become. Many times landowners would like to know more about what is laying beyond their land or what kind of fresh water resource they have. As cave instructors we need higher cave diving skills to be better educators and cave exploration challenges us to reach this goal.
Video: Laszlo scootering in Ox Bel Ha
Courtesy of Emoke Wagner