Why is Cave Diving So Dangerous (and How Do You Get Into It)?

Cave diving might sound like a magical experience but it can be just as dangerous. The technicality of cave diving is what makes it so risky. As per the Rebreather Association of International Divers or RAID International, the most common causes of accidents in diving are equipment issues like tangling reels, breaking masks, flooding torches, and navigational problems.
Why is Cave Diving So Dangerous

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Unlike other sports, you can’t just go straight to trying cave diving. A cave diving certification is needed because you can go exploring the caves. Learning about cave conditions and talking about the psychological aspects of cave diving, along with emergency procedures, are some of the most critical components you have to learn.

What is the Point of Cave Diving?

Exploring underwater caves is the main objective of cave diving. It is often done in the name of science—to research hydrology, geology, and many more.

Although cave diving is often carried out to explore new underwater caves for scientific purposes, some also go cave diving for training or testing out new equipment and techniques. Some even go cave diving for recreation.

What is the Difference Between a Cave Diving and a Cavern Diving?

While cave diving and cavern diving might sound similar, these two sports have major differences that place them at entirely different levels. Here’s a table to explain the distinction between cave diving and cavern diving:

Cave Diving Cavern Diving
A form of technical diving A form of recreational diving
Is the exploration of submerged natural overhead environments beyond sight of daylight Is the discovery of permanent, naturally occurring overhead environments while staying within sight of their openings
Can go as deep as thousands of yards Usually go no deeper than 130 feet from the surface
Use highly advanced equipment to lessen the dangers they face to a manageable level Can use most of the same equipment that they use in open water

How Dangerous is Cave Diving?

One of the most difficult and potentially dangerous forms of diving or caving is cave diving. It poses numerous hazards. Divers must undergo rigorous training because of the inherent difficulties that come with cave diving in an overhead environment. Cave divers often find themselves in dangerous conditions while still looking to test their limits.

You can encounter small equipment issues when you go cave diving, such as entrapment, flooding torches, tangling reels, breaking masks, or navigational problems. The cave diving world presents an extraordinary and special set of risks, but with the right preparation and experience, such risks can be handled just like any extreme sport.

Is Cave Diving the Most Dangerous Sport?

Cave diving is known to be in the top 20 most dangerous sports in the world but this varies according to different sources. The possibility of running out of oxygen is extremely high.

In addition to this, the likelihood of becoming disoriented and lost in an underwater cave is huge especially for those without enough experience.

How Many Cave Divers Die Each Year?

On average, about 10 cave divers die each year, as per The International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education. That may not sound like a significant rate of death, but there are only a couple thousand cave divers in the world.

Compare that with the recreational diving statistics where deaths occur per year at around one diver in 15,000. Since there is no official international organization of cave divers who keep track of statistics like this, it is near to impossible to get an accurate number of fatalities in the sport.

How Many Cave Divers Are There in the World?

It is difficult to pinpoint the total number of cave divers in the world because there is no official international organization of cave divers that record this specific data.

One must also consider the activity level of the cave divers (active or inactive) or just registered in general.

Who is the Best Cave Diver in the World?

Richard William Stanton, a British civilian cave diver, was named “the best cave diver in Europe”, “the face of British cave diving,” and “one of the world’s most accomplished cave-divers”. He specializes in rescues through the British Cave Rescue Council and Cave Rescue Organization. He was awarded the Civilian Gallantry List George Medal when he played a leading role in the Tham Luang cave rescue in 2018.

Stanton started as a self-taught diver in Cumbria and Lancashire, England on the River Lune. He was educated at the University of Aston and in 2010, Stanton set a world record for longest cave penetration dive, achieving 8,800 meters (28,900 feet) in the Pozo Azul cave system in the Rudrón Valley located in Spain along with his partners John Volanthen, René Houben and Jason Mallinson.

How Much Do Cave Divers Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial divers earned an average annual salary of $58,640, or $28.19 an hour, as of May 2011. In the United States, the 750 divers working in the industry $66,520 annually.

Below is a list of the estimated salary of cave divers. This, of course, depends on the type of job you do when you go cave diving.

  • Public Safety Diver: $39,000
  • Marine Archaeologist: $39,000 – $72,000
  • Commercial Diver: $54,750 – $93,910
  • Golf Ball Diver: $36,000-55,000
  • Underwater Photographer: $35,000 – $60,000
  • Dive Instructor: $31,000 – $50,000

How Do You Get Into Cave Diving?

To get into cave diving, you should begin with educating yourself. There are levels of education that must be taken by each diver to advance to a professional cave diver. A diver should take the following courses to become a cave diver, as per the certifying organization NAUI.

  • Introduction to Technical Diving Skills
  • Mixed Gasses and Decompression Diving
  • Overhead Environments
  • Cavern Diver
  • Cave Diver Levels One and Two
  • Cave Guide

Diving in caves is a completely different world. If you are interested in getting into the sport of cave diving, you need to consider a few things. Cave diving presents several hazards which you should be aware of and at the very least, you should be comfortable in exploring the unknown while taking into consideration that things might go wrong underwater.

How Do I Become a Certified Cave Diver?

To become certified, you must be at least 18 years of age. You must also have certifications for open water and advanced scuba diving. Afterward, you begin with a cavern diver course which allows you to explore overhead environments and enter caverns while staying in the light zone.

Before you take your cave diving course, you should strive for a minimum of 50 open water dives, 20 of which should be logged. You also have to be an experienced night diver who is comfortable with low-light communication methods which involve the use of torches. The period for completion may differ according to the degree of certification. The conclusion of a complete course, however, involves:

  • Four different cave entrances
  • A minimum of 500 meters of cave penetration
  • Water time of at least 20 hours

How Many Certified Cave Divers Are There?

As mentioned, there is no international organization catering to such statistics worldwide. However, a source claims that some experts estimate that as few as 75 people can call themselves certified, professional cave divers globally.

Cave diving isn’t a leisure activity; it’s a serious profession. Jill Heinerth, a professional cave diver, explained in her memoir that this profession is unusual and requires a strength of character like no other.

Where Can You Cave Dive?

It is an indescribable sensation to discover the underground world. If you want to get started on your cave diving journey, here’s a list of some of the most amazing places around the world you should add to your bucket list:

  1. Great Blue Hole – Belize
  2. Temple of Doom (Cenote Esqueleto) – Tulum Mexico
  3. Cenote Angelita – Tulum, Mexico
  4. Devil’s Cave System – Ginnie Springs, United States
  5. First Cathedral – Hawaii, United States
  6. Sistemas Dos Ojos – Yucatan, Mexico
  7. Fish Rock Cave – Australia
  8. Jacob’s Well – Wimberly, United States
  9. Eagle Nest Sink – Florida, United States
  10. Andros Island – Bahamas
  11. The Blue Hole – Dahab, Egypt
  12. Chinhoyi Caves – Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe
  13. Ben’s Cave – Lucayan National Park, Grand Bahama
  14. Kilsby’s Sinkhole – Mt Gambier, South Australia
  15. Orda Cave – Perm Region, Russia

Keep in mind to never go cave diving on your own. It is important that you have someone with you all the time and that you stick to all the rules to ensure your safety.

Where Can You Go to Dive in the Largest Underground Cave System in Florida?

Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park is the only park devoted to cave diving in Live Oak, Florida. It has one of the longest underwater cave systems in the United States. This karst cave system has an impressive 28,000 feet of discoverable passageway with six massive sinkholes and two main springs.

This cave is not for newbies and is suitable for experienced cavers accompanied by a guide or an expert. As a matter of fact, only divers who can provide proof of scuba certification will be allowed to explore the caverns, and diving on your own is strictly prohibited as well. It will not be easy to be able to explore all the cave systems, but it depends on how long you intend to stay to explore and how involved you are in trying this feat.