15 April 2010

Dudú Caverns

Today I went on a cave dive at La Cueva Dudú outside of the nearby town Rio San Juan (http://www.dudubluelagoon.com/). The cave was actually discovered by a group that included Juergen, the owner of Tauchschule Merlin. I wasn't aware of that until this morning, but he and his group were the first to map the outer portion (the portion we dove today).

La Cueva Dudú

We started in the central pool and went through three separate passages, each in the range of 100 meters long. The first leads from the central pool to a secondary pool, the second leads back to the central pool, and the third dead ends but has a submerged air chamber where we surfaced and spent some time floating around.

I was really amused by the fact that "el dudú" and the bathrooms were in the same direction.

The central lagoon, where we entered the caves.

Getting briefed on the dive.

Map of the Cave
(the bottom left shows the three passages we dived)

It was a really good dive, but I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't brought my camera along. It was difficult managing my gear with the camera in one hand and my dive light in the other, all the while being in an unfamiliar environment. Most of the pictures didn't even turn out that well because (big surprise) there's not very much light in a cave. But I felt this blog post just wouldn't be the same without some visual media. Besides, I'm supposed to taking photos in exchange for my diving!

In the central pool. Look closely and you'll see Christian is recovering a pair of lost sunglasses.

A way-marker.
In the event of blackout due to silt or failed lights, these are your only hope for getting out.

Arriving at the second pool.

On the surface at the second pool. Though the opening is on the surface, all three passages are completely submerged.


The water was a couple degrees colder than the ocean (77°F) which doesn't sound like much, but it made a big difference. We spent something like an hour and a half in the water (including the time we spent at the surface in the external pools and in the submerged chamber) and I was freezing! I had been warned that it would be cold and had been offered a second wetsuit, but I declined because I was too lazy to adjust the amount of lead I would have had to carry (an additional wetsuit would make me more buoyant and I would have had to counteract that with more weights). Although, since it was fresh water, I probably could have gotten away without changing anything because without salt you are less buoyant anyway. Oh well. I warmed back up in the end.

Fossilized Sea Biscuit

Freshwater Shrimp

One of the best parts about diving in fresh water is that there's no need to clean the salt out of your gear afterward! That's a very tedious part of diving. And after being in the fresh water for an hour and a half, it's never been so clean!

Inside the submerged chamber.

It was a pretty big area.

This rock looks a lot like icing dripping over the edges of a cake.

There is a second area of the cave that branches off from the third passage, but it requires technical cave training and can only be reached by removing your SCUBA gear an passing it through a small opening ahead of you. Once you're through, you then replace your gear and continue further. I found out, also this morning, that this deeper section of the cave was first explored and mapped by the person I'll be taking my Tech Diving course with next week. It's a small world. I guess, the dedicated diving community is just not that big.

This sign is posted at the narrow entrance of the technical section. But it used to be on the inside. People would pass through to read it, but once you pass that part you've already crossed the most dangerous section. Bad planning. They've moved it to the outside.

Clowning around on the safety stop.

There are also some terrestrial caves.

Gray skies on the ride back to Sosúa.

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