Bermuda Deep Water Caves 2011: Dives of Discovery

The First Two Days

By Jill Heinerth, Underwater Videographer - www.IntoThePlanet.com 
June 13, 2011

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While working to prepare their gear, members of the Bermuda Deep Water Caves dive team provide an overview of the project and the safety concerns involved. Video courtesy of Bermuda Deep Water Caves, NOAA-OER. Download (mp4, 22.3 MB).

Every expedition begins with a lot of gear preparation. I brought over 500 pounds of personal equipment and thankfully the airlines cooperated in helping it arrive safely. We built our rebreathers, side mount diving rigs and topside and underwater camera equipment. After a full day of prep, filling and organization we geared up for our first dive. Not everyone was as fortunate with the state of their gear and we got a very slow start. Well worth the wait, our first dive took us into a beautiful system called Green Bay Cave.

Brian Kakuk navigating Green Bay Cave System.

Brian Kakuk navigating Green Bay Cave System. Image courtesy of Jill Heinerth, Bermuda Deep Water Caves 2011 Exploration, NOAA-OER. Download larger version (jpg, 151 KB).

When I first entered the cave, a very large grey snapper became very agitated. He careened off the walls and seemed attracted to my light. He slammed into my helmet knocking me sideways than looped around through the silt and bounced off the front of my camera. After two hard hits, he retreated to the darkness to hide until we returned for our decompression.

Tom Iliffe and Steve Blasco review targets and plan for taking geological samples at depth.

Tom Iliffe and Steve Blasco review targets and plan for taking geological samples at depth. Image courtesy of Jill Heinerth, Bermuda Deep Water Caves 2011 Exploration, NOAA-OER. Download image (jpg, 90 KB).

Brian Kakuk, Brett Gonzalez, Paul Heinerth and Graham Maddox have a moment to laugh while they fill the trimix tanks that the rebreather team may use for their bailout.

Brian Kakuk, Brett Gonzalez, Paul Heinerth and Graham Maddox have a moment to laugh while they fill the trimix tanks that the rebreather team may use for their bailout. Image courtesy of Jill Heinerth, Bermuda Deep Water Caves 2011 Exploration, NOAA-OER. Download image (jpg, 113 KB).

I dove with Gil Nolan, Brian Kakuk and Paul Heinerth. They served as my lighting assistants for underwater photography. It takes a tremendous amount of diving expertise to safely conduct the type of diving we are involved in, but it also takes a high level of creativity and awareness. The four of us have to conduct an underwater dance together, jockeying for position and pointing the strobes in the correct direction to illuminate the cave. The three guys are carrying devices called slave strobes. They are triggered by my camera when I am ready to take the shot. Everyone must have excellent buoyancy control and exacting movements to keep the cave clear and illuminate the stygian darkness we are swimming through. The visibility was rather challenging with a significant white haze hanging in the water column, but I manage to pull off terrific photos thanks to my team.

Filling tanks and prepping rebreathers at Triangle Diving.

Filling tanks and prepping rebreathers at Triangle Diving. Image courtesy of Jill Heinerth, Bermuda Deep Water Caves 2011 Exploration, NOAA-OER. Download image (jpg, 83 KB).

Grotto Bay, home of Triangle Dive Center, is a beautiful setting for dive prep.

Grotto Bay, home of Triangle Dive Center, is a beautiful setting for dive prep. Image courtesy of Jill Heinerth, Bermuda Deep Water Caves 2011 Exploration, NOAA-OER. Download image (jpg, 112 KB).