I have been on vacation for the last couple of weeks, and unfortunately for me it ends Monday, and I must return to the grind. My vacation did not consist of any exotic places, per say, rather I took short trips and hung around this paradise we call home, The Nature Coast. In particular, I often travel to the Northern tip of our county and tromp around the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. During my time of R and R, last Saturday morning I woke early enough to be considered unanatural to most, and grabbed coffee from Double D. I tromped around this mosquito infested swanp attempting to obtain a photo of a certain four point buck in full velvet. I started stalking this young buck after capturing a few photos of him a few days prior. I did not see him this specific morning.
I decided to make my way down to Eagle’s Nest, a popular cave diving location after nearly being carried away by the mosquitos in the swamp. I guess they were protecting that four point from my camera that morning. It was great luck though that the mosquitos carried me back to my truck, because when I arrived at Eagle’s Nest I stumbled upon these two fine gentleman, Dave Grimm and Tom Bell. I don’t think they really knew what to think of me, smoking a cigar and carrying a camera. I struck up a conversation with them and asked if I could be my usual nosey self. They politely agreed to let me photograph them and talked a little about cave diving and Eagle’s Nest.
Eagle’s Nest is a popular diving destination for advanced cave divers, and I do mean advanced, because there have been those that have given their lives to these caverns. Tom and Dave talked about the advanced training they possessed and all the gear and equipment they carried with them. They both belong to The National Speleological Society Cave Diving section, as well as, The National Association of Cave Divers. Their dive on this particular Saturday would be to a depth of 300 feet into the bowels of the Florida Aquifer. If you look at the last photo in the essay you’ll see that Eagle’s Nest appears, on the surface, to be a large pond located in the middle of the Chassahowitzka wildlife Management Area, but 70 feet beneath it’s surface is a solution tube leading to a large cave introducing divers to, really, Florida’s Aquifer. As you’ll see in this series of images, cave divers use a series of tanks where they will breathe oxygen mixtures.
The tanks are dropped at various depths. Each tank has a different oxygen mixture which must be used at specific depths. If it is not accomplished correctly, death will occur. They possessed reels of line so as to not get lost, lights to enable them to see within these dark caverns beneath the surface, and small computers to tell them which tanks to use and the depths needed for a pause so as to not suffer from any medical issues from surfacing to quickly. Tom and Dave were very friendly guys who were more than happy to share their hobby with me, and I found it quite interesting I must say.
I have included a few links for you to view. One of the links is to a video I found about Eagle’s Nest. Tom and Dave, during our conversation gave me another area to photograph. This new destination will include a hike into the mosquito infested swamp. I have located the new destination through sattellite imaging and with GPS in hand I will provide you all with more photos from the swamps of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. Please see the following links suggested to me by Tom and Dave. I hope you find them interesting. A big thanks to both Tom Bell and Dave Grimm for letting me be nosey and a little annoying with my camera.
Eagle’s Nest Video
National Associattion For Cave Divers
National Speleogical Society
Cyber Diver News Network