ambiance: Cave diving ambiance, bubbles
Around the world, in places as far flung as Bermuda, Australia, the Galapagos
Islands, deep inside the earth you can find ancient caves filled with salt water. For scientists
in search of unknown life, exploring the inky darkness of these underwater chambers can be a
challenging and rewarding experience. I'm Jim Metzner,
and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
"The problem in cave diving is that we have a solid rock roof over our head
at all times. In open water diving if anything fails with your equipment you simply ascend to the
surface. In a cave this isn't possible. The only way out of the cave, is typically the way we
entered the cave."
Dr. Tom Iliffe is a professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University. He's
also a cave diving instructor. It's dangerous business, and redundancy is the rule. Each diver must
carry extra backup lights and air tanks. As the students slip into the water, they clip themselves
to a safety line that leads back to the entrance of the cave.
"Often times we find enormous rooms or huge tunnels, bigger than the
biggest subway tunnel. Water is essentially air clear, and how far we see is limited only by the
brightness of our lights. We get a deep blue color, an incredible blue color that permeates the
cave. We see magnificent stalactites and stalagmites that have been preserved for tens of thousands
of years underwater. We see animals, tiny animals, forms of life that no human has ever seen before.
There's an excitement, a thrill in this diving, that is literally indescribable."
The student divers will use
only one third of their air supply before they
head back, to the cave entrance.
First broadcast on 21-JAN-02