CRYSTAL CATHEDRALS: ABACO’S ASTOUNDING UNDERGROUND CAVES (6)
The photos you see in this post were all taken by Hitoshi Miho during an amazing 3 days of diving with Brian Kakuk deep in the pine forests of South Abaco. It’s not the first time they have explored together the wonders that lie beneath those hundreds of acres of pines and scrub; I’m sure it won’t be the last.
The most spectacular cave systems are the adjacent Ralph’s and Dan’s Caves. These systems are believed to be linked, and I know Brian has been trying to find where they meet – a difficult and dangerous task carried out underwater many metres below the forest floor, and requiring sophisticated diving equipment and great expertise.
The latest 3-day exploration involved 12 dives and nearly 30 hours underwater in Ralph’s Cave. Narrow passages open out into massive caverns filled with wonderful and complex crystal stalagtites and stalagmites formed over eons. I hope you enjoy examples from the ‘Rooms’ and passages, many with exotic names (Glass Factory, Ninja Passage, Erabor); some more prosaic (Fred’s Room). Then try to imagine that you are actually swimming there.
I shall be posting some more photos in due course showing some of the details of the cave formations – intricate patterns, delicate tracery, irridescent colouring, pencil-thin rods, ‘rock’ folds that look like the finest linen. As always I am immensely grateful to both intrepid divers for use permission. I won’t pretend that these thrilling caves are easily accessible – this is emphatically not an adventure to try unguided with a snorkel and flippers. But as you drive along the highway past miles of forest, it’s worth reflecting that far below you are some of the most magnificent cave systems anywhere in the world – right there, on your very own island…
As it happens, the Delphi Club is very close to these caves, which lie within the boundaries of the newly created ‘South Abaco Blue Holes Conservation Area (see map). This is one of several such conservation areas on Abaco and in the wider Bahamas that are designed to protect the natural resources of the islands from development and exploitation. The second map shows how tantalisingly close Dan’s and Ralph’s caves are… and suggests that further exploration may lead to the missing link.
Finally, here is a 4-minute video of one small part of the exploration, which gives a very good idea of what is entailed in investigating the narrow passages and huge cathedral-like caverns. Welcome to the Fangon Forest…
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Great article and photos! But I do think “Caveman Fred” deserves a lot more credit for the work he did discovering and mapping the first caves. He spent many years doing this before damage to his system from rescuing divers (and bodies) from serious depths caught up with him. He is back in Marsh Harbour, I think he could provide a terrific interview. He dove up some great stuff from our Blue Hole at the Wild Horse Preserve here in TC, a story in itself.
Milanne (Mim) Rehor
President Arkwild, Inc. US 501 (c) 3
Project Director W.H.O.A. Wild Horses Of Abaco Preservation Society (Bahamas)
email: email@example.com site: http://www.arkwild.org/blog/ FB: Abaco Horses 1-242-577-4573
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Hi Mim! It’s been a while since we were in touch. That’s a very good point. I must research that. I have a second post in mind showing some of the cave details – maybe that would be a very good place for some facts about Caveman Fred! RH
Oh RH, I have never seen anything like this. These caves are astounding, the photography is impeccable, and the video is truly fascinating. Interesting formations, colors, and so many different textures. I also really like the accompanying bubbling sounds in the video, brings the viewer right down into the water. But oh, you could never in a million years get me close to an underground cave, which makes this adventure so very much appreciated.
Aren’t they something, Jet? It’s hard to imagine such treasures lie beneath what is basically a huge area of thin pine forest and scrub that covers much of the island. But I’m with you in staying clear of the narrow entrances to the caves. This is well beyond a quick snorkel. Also… before you get to the wondrous caves, there are long narrow passages to negotiate… not in my repertoire… RH