Friday, February 05, 2010

Extreme Cave Diving in the Name of Science

Brought to you by the folks at PBS:

While some people might die doing science, a lot of people die cave diving: each year an average of 20 worldwide. The U.S. National Speleological Society defines a successful cave dive as "one you return from." "Extreme Cave Diving" is really about the blue holes of the Bahamas. It's about cutting-edge science that gives us important data about our climate and reveals a lot about the Eden of now-extinct animals that once lived on the islands of the Bahamas. But blue holes are immense, flooded caves, and the only way to explore them is through the dangerous sport of cave diving. In our 21-day expedition, and the resulting film, diving and the threat of dying sometimes overshadowed the science.


Is diving really that dangerous? No, but diving in caves is. More people have died cave diving than climbing Mount Everest. Cave divers say of their sport, "There are no injuries, just fatalities." I've filmed in three war zones, but I think the chances of someone dying were higher in blue holes than in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Zaire. In the war zones, you hold onto the not-unreasonable hope that you can keep crew members alive by being extra careful. I didn't think I could do anything about the dangers of the blue holes, except drain them—which is a ridiculous notion, and a crime, because damaging blue holes would be like burning a library.

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