James Garrett's Blog

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Fun with Manatees at Crystal River

Since I had never done a manatee tour, I thought it would be a fun weekend getaway.  Kaitlin and I booked reservations with Florida Manatee Tours in Crystal River, FL.  Because the weather had been warmer recently, the manatees were hanging out in the bay, where visibility is low, and weren’t in the spring area like they traditionally are.  We did catch one in clear enough water to film, so I embedded the video.

If you turn up the volume and listen carefully, you can actually hear the manatee chomping away at the sea grass. Manatees are almost always eating, as they get over 1500lbs, and need to eat 10% of their body weight each day. Since baby manatees are fed milk form the mother, they don’t have to worry with eating such large amounts of food, so they’re more likely to play, since they have all this spare time on their hands!

Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 9:28 am. Add a comment

Seeing what all the fuss is about…the “New Ginnie”

Having resisted the temptation for several months now, I finally decided to venture beyond the old end of line at Ginnie Springs and see the new section.  For those of you who have been living in the dark for the past two years (or don’t cave dive), the “New Ginnie” refers to a newly explored section of the cave.  Ginnie was believed to have been walled out years ago, but Swiss cave diver Marius Frei discovered a no mount lead through clay which opened into a new, reasonably large passage.  Over time, Mark Fyvie would extend this line (and survey, which Marius isn’t known for), but passed away in a diving accident in the process.  Shortly after, UCLA professor Andrew Ainslie added additional line (5600ft at that time) and provided Anita Berman with an extension of the existing map that her husband produced.  Agnes Milowka added some line, and also produced photos in the NSS-CDS journal.  Finally, James Toland came along and as he seems to do literally everywhere he dives, he extended Ginnie’s end of line out to 7100ft, which only a few have managed to even follow his line, which is currently EOL at this time.  Bob Schulte is in the process of surveying the section and will produce a map in the future.

Anyways, enough with the history of the section…Andreas and I had talked about going here for a decent amount of time, but never went due to other sites taking priority.  Ginnie is pretty hard to motivate me to do a “big” dive in, due to the substantial amount of damaged cave that you have to go through to get to anything pretty.  I typically consider it a training cave with a few pretty sections, but this was different.  Scubaboard hosts an annual megadive event, where close to 100 divers invade the park to camp, eat, and throw one massive bonfire party.

Our plan was reasonable simple, 3 stages, using helium to make them easy to carry, sidemount gear configuration (due to the rock restriction) and DPVs.  Because of the high flow, a 6 man team taking forever to exit while we held on for dear life (cave courtesy is to allow exiting teams to pass), and drag from the stages, my SAC was abnormally high and I burned through my first stage by stage bottle rock at 1800ft.  The next stage got me to just beyond the Heinkle Restriction, and the final stage got me to the end of the old gold line.

Beyond the old end of the line, you’ll find somewhat pristine cave (this tunnel is no secret– and traffic shows), with a few large rooms where the rock alternates between jet black and a very unique tan color.  We made it to the third T, which was right at 5000ft penetration.

Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 1:00 pm. Add a comment