I dont know alot about Wes Skiles but I do know that he was a pioneer in the area of cave exploration in the Yucatan.  Cave explorers in the area have great respect for the work that they did with Wes and are saddened by his recent death.

Many people come to this area with their passion in hand, personal money and a vision and explore the greatest cave system in the world located throughout the state of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan.  Many are still here, continue to explore and continue to dive with their heart on their sleeve to find more information about the systems that are below the jungle, the culture of the area and the natural wonders of the area.

In a photo shoot done by Wes before his death, the National Geographic highlighted a recent dive he did in a cave system outside of the area.  His photos are stunning and need to be shared.  It shows the eye he had, the range of his incredible dive skill and the dedication to he to cave diving and cave systems.

Wes you will be missed but more importantly, thank you for participating in the ongoing discovery of the Yucatan cenotes and cave system.      Your passion, your vision and enthusiasm was a great addition to the ongoing discovery of the largest cave system in the world.


Not a cave diver and curious what they do?  Not a cave diver and just interested what these perceived (and I do say perceived as they are excellent at what they do)  crazy divers do in this environment or do you just want to confirm that this is not what you are interested in.

This is a cave video, taken by our good friend Harry as he was exploring a new cave system the String of Pearls.  Harry is a long term resident and as you will see in the video a great great diver.  This video is not of a cenote, and please if you are exploring the idea of cenote diving do not take this as an example of a cenote.  THIS IS A CAVE and unless you are cave certified you would not be able to do this.  What i appreciate about this video is that non cave divers can experience a cave dive without penetrating the area.  this will either inspire you or it will confirm a belief that cave diving is not for you.

Oddly enough, harry and the videographer of film stayed with us during their exploration of this system in 2008 at Hotel Tropical Casablanca.  They were very hush hush about their cave diving during this 14 days as cave explorers do not release their information until they have documented the entire system.  Maybe CIA should mean cave investigation and authorizing instead of its normal definition.  These explorations are top secret and are shared once they are completed not during their completion.

This video is a great example of what a cave diver does and enjoys.  I am thankful it was posted and even more thankful for the time these two put into the exploration of the String of Pearls.

Again we have found an excellent video done by Steve. This video shows how to correctly knot your line so you can measure your penetration correctly when doing cave exploration.

There is not a lot we can say prior to this video as it speaks for itself.

For years we have been fasinated by the cave explorers that volunteer their time to map out the cave systems that exist in the area. They are a necessary piece of work for the development of cave diving, understanding the area and to maintain an environmental assessment of the area. 

When you study these maps, which we do all the time, they are not only interesting and informative, but they can be works of art.  The thousands of diving hours coupled with the drawing and mapping time makes these more valuable then lets say , the Mona Lisa. 

Now I am sure that there are many who have an opinion about that statement, but hear me out.  The Mona Lisa was painted sitting in a studio, either from a vision of the painter or the painter was replicating a true person onto paper.  The artisit did not have to put on dive gear, find a buddy, take their slate , trek through the jungle, dive who knows how many times, and that is not even discussing the entry into the water, taking their notes and them mapping it out to create their ‘art’ that is used and admired by many.  Artists use many hours to create their art, but i dont know how many complete the prepartory work that cave divers complete in order to create their ‘art’.

Here are some examples of cave maps from the Quintana Roo Speleological Society www.caves.org

 to view this map in a large size go to this web page.

To show another detailed map there is also this map…a completely different outlook on what can be created.

 this can be viewed at this webpage.

 Cave mapping is amazing but credit really needs to be given to those cave divers who painsakenly have mapped and continue to map caves in the area.  They have volunteered their time and expertise to further the understanding of the caves in the area.  The Quintana Roo Speleological Society has made some great contributions and supported many divers since 1990.  Hats off to all the cave divers and artists who have contributed to cave understanding and knowledge.  From us, thank you!

The question of the day.  And we can make it a bit broader by asking if Cave and Cavern Diving in general is ‘technically’ (pardon the pun) an extreme sport.

An extreme sport is defined as a sport that meets the following criteria:

1.  have a high level of inherent danger

2.  are counter cultural

3.  involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion

4.  highly specialized gear

5.  attract a younger demographic (what ever that means under 60, under under 30)

6.  higher number of inherently uncontrollable variables

7.  Is not a competitive sport though can stem from a competitive sport

8.  the sport inherently contains environmental obstacles and challenges

9.  enthusiasts are viewed to participate in a very dangerous or difficult sport

I think i could debate each of these points for many hours and could even go as far as debating the term ‘Sport”  for cavern and cave diving.  I will let each reader decide based on this criteria.

The history of cave diving can be brought to the idea of search and rescue.  Divers were trained to cave dive not as a sport as a way to rescue people who ended up in the cave systems either out of falling through a hole in a cenote on land, or those who thought that entering a hole in the earth without technical training would be a fun thing to do and found that they did not return.  IN this area, it became a way for divers to explore kilometers of systems that could not be accesses any other way but through the process of technical diving in overhead environments.  It was not viewed as a sport, in either instance, cave diving was a technical training that enable people to rescue or to uncover the mysterious of these inaccessable caves through normal means.

Since the process of cave diving and the popularization of overhead environment diving in ships and wrecks, and with the fascination of what lies beyond in the mayan systems of cenotes, cave instructors and cavern guides have been able to regularize cave and cavern diving for both technical and recreational divers.  The rigorous training is still there for cave divers, the education given to recreational divers if they wish to look at cavern (not cave) diving as an option while visiting the Riviera Maya.  and the instruction and education is done well, with caution and precaution.

Before you can cavern dive you need to satisfy the following criteria:

1.  have at least 20 dives in your log book

2.  complete a check out dive for your cavern guide or dive center instructor so they can determine if your buoyancy and basic scuba skills are appropriate for the overhead environment

3.  when you have been ‘okayed’ by your cavern guide, there is a very different and more technical briefing provided that introduces some basic technical diving skills, new hand signals, the rule of thirds, the role of the permanent line in the cenote and the need for small groups, no more than 4 divers per guide.

Cave diving has a seperate certification level all together and has levels of cave diving that you can work towards.  Cave diving is not for the recreational diver, it is the next step for those who feel they are ready to change their diving, their dive environments and where they can dive.  That is another post all to gether.

I have not answered the question is cave and cavern diving an extreme sport, as I would like you to make that conclusion.  Most importantly, both require a great level of skill and cave diving requires technical certification that can take up to 8 days to achieve.

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