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What is extreme cave diving?

News Trade News2021-09-13 19:44:21

Cave diving, the full name cave diving, refers to diving activities carried out in caves that are full or partly full of water. It can be used as an extreme sport; it can also be used to explore submerged caves for scientific investigation or to find and rescue divers who have lost contact for various reasons.

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In the UK

cave diving is developed from the more common local cave exploration.

In the United Statesits

origin is closely related to recreational scuba diving. Compared with cave exploration and scuba diving, there are relatively few practitioners of cave diving. This is partly due to the specialized equipment and special skills required and partly due to the high potential risks caused by the specific environment.

Despite the risks, cave diving still attracts divers, cavers, and speleologists because of the original and unknown natural environment and the more difficult diving challenges. Underwater caves contain diverse geomorphological features, and there may be creatures that have never been found in other areas.

Since most cave diving is done in an environment where it is not possible to surface freely to breathe fresh air, it is crucial to find a way out before the breathing gas is exhausted. This must be ensured by using continuous route markings outside the diving team and caves and careful planning and monitoring of the oxygen supply. Two basic types of guidelines are used for route marking: permanent lines and temporary lines. The permanent route can include a mainline starting near the entrance/exit, as well as sidelines or branch lines, and indicate the direction of the nearest exit. Temporary lines include exploration lines and jumpers.

The process of decompression usually requires cave divers to follow very strict regulations and precise paths when entering and exiting the cave and can reasonably expect to find any equipment, such as oxygen cylinders temporarily stored on the way out of the cave. In some cases, changes in the depth of the cave along the diving route will limit the decompression depth, so each cave dive should be tailored to include the required gas and a detailed plan of the dive schedule.

Most open water diving skills are also suitable for cave diving, but there are other skills specific to specific environments and selected equipment.

Using navigation to escape in a completely dark environment is a vital safety emergency skill. The route management skills required for cave diving include:

  • Using reels to lay and restore distance lines.
  • Tying.
  • Using jumpers to cross gaps or finding lost guide ropes under silted conditions.
  • Determining the direction to leave the cave along the route and handling interrupted routes Skills.

Emergency skills to deal with gas supply problems. Any problems in confined spaces, low visibility, or even dark environments can become extremely complicated.

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The many dangers contained in cave diving make it one of the most challenging and potentially risky extreme sports in the world. Cave diving is a kind of enclosed diving, which means that in an emergency, due to the physical space limitations of the cave, divers cannot swim directly to the surface, so they can only return the same way. The route into the cave system can be difficult, and most of the exit routes are out of reach, requiring divers to have enough breathing gas for the journey. In addition, the diving depth of cave diving may also be very deep, which can lead to potential diving risks.

The visibility in the cave can vary from completely transparent to extremely low or even completely invisible. It can go from one extreme to the other in a dive. Although the depth of cave diving is not so sensitive to light, divers will not exceed the depth of natural light penetration into the water (usually no more than 200 feet (60 meters), penetration distance no more than 100 feet (30 meters)). Still, real cave diving may have to traverse thousands of feet of water and caves, the darkness of which forces people to use artificial light sources; otherwise, they will fall into a dark environment. Caverns usually contain sand, mud, clay, silt, or other sediments, which can greatly reduce underwater visibility within a few seconds.

There is a strong current in the cave. Most cave entrances appear on the ground in the form of springs or siphons. The spring flows out of a surging stream of water, and the water flows out of the soil and flows across the surface of the land. Siphons occur in places that attract water; for example, rivers above the ground are also flowing underground. Some caves have very complex structures, with many channels with outflowing water and many channels with inflowing water. If the current is abnormally turbulent, it may cause serious troubles for divers.

Cave diving is considered one of the deadliest sports in the world. This view may be exaggerated because most divers who lost their lives in the caves had no special training or had insufficient equipment to cope with the complex and changeable environment. Some cave divers believe that, based on experience, cave diving is actually statistically safer than recreational diving precisely because of the expensive training and equipment costs required for cave diving. However, this view lacks statistical evidence.

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There is no reliable global database that has ever listed all the fatalities of cave diving. However, data statistics with certain reference values show that under the conditions of following the recognized specifications and protocols and using the equipment configuration approved by the cave diving community, very few divers died due to cave diving. And the very rare exceptional fatalities are usually caused by abnormal conditions (environment, etc.). The same principle applies to other forms of diving. But there is no doubt that ability, good preparation, and proper equipment can reduce the risk of all hazardous activities. Here are five general rules for safe cave diving, all of which have been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people and accepted by most cave divers.

1. Training:

Cave divers who pay attention to safety will not do adventures beyond their training range. Cave diving is usually carried out in stages, with each subsequent stage focusing on the more complex aspects of cave diving. Each stage of training is designed to increase the experience of the cave diver so that his ability is sufficient for more complex training. The accident analysis of the cave diving death accident shows that it is obviously not enough to have enough practical experience and only theoretical training in the emergency situation of immersion in water. Through systematic practice to gain experience, divers can develop confidence, motor skills, and response capabilities, stay calm, and take appropriate emergency actions to avoid danger in an emergency. In similar situations, inexperienced divers are more likely to feel rushed than experienced divers.

2. Guide rope:

The cave diver will first choose a fixed point in open water as the starting point, and the leader of the diving team will lay a guide rope connecting himself and the starting point. This line will then guide cave divers directly into the cave. The leader will strive to ensure that the tightness of the guide rope is maintained at a good level and will not let the companion go astray. Other cave divers will gradually go deeper along the guide rope, and once danger occurs, they can easily climb on the guide rope. If the sand obscures the cave, the cave diver can return to the entrance of the cave through this thread. Many untrained, uncertified divers venture to conquer caves without using a guide rope. This is the most common cause of fatal accidents.

3. The principle of depth:

gas consumption, the risk of nitrogen drunkenness, and decompression task continue to increase with the increase of depth. Due to the double superposition of the high load of diving on the body and the dangerous environment of cave diving, the impact of nitrogen drunk on the body of cave divers will be more violent. Cave divers are not recommended to dive into depths beyond the planned depth, beyond the scope of the equipment, and the use of breathing gas limits. Divers should discern the actual difference between the depth of the open water and the depth of the cave. Excessive dive depth is one of the important reasons for many well-trained divers to miss their feet.

4. Management of breathing gas:

The supply of breathing gas must support divers to reach the outlet waters. There are several strategies for the management of breathing gas. The most common method is the "rule of thirds," where one-third of the gas is used to enter the expedition, one-third is used to leave the cave, and one-third is used to support another team member in an emergency. The "rule of thirds" is a very simple method, but it is not perfect. The British approach is to adhere to the rule of thirds but put more emphasis on the "balance" between independent air supply systems so that the complete loss of a certain gas supply can still allow divers to have enough gas to return safely. The rule of thirds does not allow for increased air consumption because the loss of the air system may cause pressure. Different scuba sizes between divers cannot use the rule of thirds uniformly, and sufficient reserves should be calculated for each dive. The British approach is to assume that each diver is completely independent, just like in a pool in their own home. When they encounter difficulties, no one will appear to help solve the problem. Therefore, most British and American divers do cave diving alone. The "rule of thirds" theory is very suitable for diving into Florida caves-these caves have extremely impactful turbulence, which helps reduce air consumption when exiting. In a cave system where the outflow of water is sparse, it is a wise choice to retain more than the volume of gas required by the rule of thirds.

5. Lighting:

Each cave diver should have at least three independent light sources. One is the main light source, providing regular battery life. The other two are spare lights, usually low-power light sources, because they are not responsible for the task of exploration. The burning time of each lamp should at least support the planned dive time. If any diver's lighting system fails, making their work lights less than three, the agreement requires all diving team members to turn around and leave the cave immediately.

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Note: Cave diving is very dangerous, but cave diving is very worth trying for those well-trained scuba divers.

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