Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bahamas Blue Holes

The blue holes of the Bahamas hold untold secrets. These underwater caves plunge more than 600 feet into darkness and extremely dangerous to explore. Read more over at National Geographic.

"As living laboratories, inland blue holes are the scientific equivalent of Tut's tomb. From a diver's perspective, they're on par with Everest or K2, requiring highly specialized training, equipment, and experience. Even more than high-altitude mountaineers, cave divers work under tremendous time pressure. When something goes wrong, if they don't solve the problem and make it back to the cave entrance before their gas runs out, they're doomed.

Until now, only a handful of scientists have ventured into blue holes, but in the summer and fall of 2009, a multidisciplinary cave-diving and scientific team spent two months studying them on Andros, Abaco, and five other Bahamian islands. Funded by the National Geographic Society in collaboration with the National Museum of the Bahamas, headed by Keith Tinker, the Bahamas Blue Hole Expedition was conceived by Kenny Broad, a veteran cave explorer and an anthropologist at the University of Miami. Under Broad's wisecracking, driven leadership, with Brian Kakuk as dive safety officer and preeminent cave explorer Wes Skiles shooting film and stills, team members made around 150 dives in dozens of blue holes. They gathered data that promise to deepen our understanding of everything from geology and water chemistry to biology, paleontology, archaeology, and even astrobiology—the study of life in the universe."


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