Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More on Operation Desert Dive

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW

Last night I had the opportunity to interview Brett Rapp before he sets out on his expedition. Here's some more information on this exciting quest.

Brett will leave on Sunday 14 May and should reach Cocklebiddy by Tuesday It should be all over by June 3. The team will be composed of 7-8 divers including one woman. The group will be split into two teams of three divers with at least one person remaining above ground. Previous dives have come to an end because the passage narrows and becomes impassable. Brett hopes to find another tunnel leading further in. If so, this could be a world record dive for penetrating a single entrance cave.

The water is best described as brackish and is not very deep about 20 meters. However decompression is still an issue because of the length of time under water. The final push could take 18 hours and requires rebreathers.

His personal goal is to reach Toad Hall about 4 km into the cave. Brett will explore a bit further but two other divers will make the push to the end.

Another of Brett's goals is to give cave diving proper scientific exploration credentials rather the just the thrill seeker image it has. The retrieval of the bat fossils are an important part of this. It has already been established that the bats are from a different species then currently live in the area. As the remains are in Toad Hall they must have got there thousands of years ago when the passages were not flooded. The fossils will first be taken to the Western Australian Museum for preparation and then studied by Terry Reardon from the South Australia Museum.

Equipment include 16 scooters, 7 sets of backgas, 18 stage bottles, many sets of regulators and lights. The value of the equipment is close to $AU 250,000 and the expedition could not have undertaken without the support of its sponsors; Australian Geographic, Halcyon, Tusa Casio, Coleman Australia, Nikon ,Ikelite, Digital Diver.

Brett intends to take a satellite phone with him and I hope to provide updates on the expedition.