Florida Cave Diving | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD


Coming up on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World,
a claustrophobic Florida cave dive! Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my
world! Florida has a well-deserved reputation for
sun, sand and ocean. But North Florida is known in the scuba diving
community as a top cave diving destination—cave country. Most North Americans learn to cave dive here
in Florida cave country then once they’re certified, they go out around the world having
more cave diving adventures to places like the Bahamas and the Yucatan. But I did it backwards. I learned to cave dive in in the Bahamas,
and I’ve never even seen a Florida cave. Today, I’m going to have my first Florida
cave dive! This is Jug Hole, at Ichetucknee Springs State
Park. Above water it just looks like a little pond. But underwater, nestled within a ring of eel
grass, there is a hole going straight down into the Earth. In this part of Florida the soil is thin over
a base of limestone created by ancient coral reefs. But over millions of years, rain water has
eaten away at the limestone, creating a kind of Swiss cheese called karst. It’s full of caves, which are full of water. In places, the water flows out of the ground
in springs that form surface rivers and streams. That’s exactly what Jug Hole is—a spring. I begin my day at Amigos Dive Center in Fort
White with owner Wayne Kinard, my guide to diving North Florida. Wayne’s shop is smack dab in the middle
of Florida Cave country! We load tanks and gear and hit the road for
a short drive to an amazing place. Soon we arrive at Icketucknee Springs State
Park, which has no less than 7 springs that together feed the Icketucknee River. After a short walk, lugging gear in a cart,
we reach Blue Hole Spring, known to the locals as Jug Hole, one of largest of the springs. It flows at between 40 and 60 million gallons
a day, which is enough to fill 2 swimming pools every minute! We suit up with sidemount cave diving gear
and prepare to explore Jug Hole. And as soon as we are ready, Todd’s camera
malfunctions. After I sealed it, everything was working
then. Underwater cameras are notoriously finicky,
and they always pick inconvenient moments to act up. With the camera sorted out, we head underwater,
with Wayne leading the way. Water is gushing out of the spring. It blows us back with such force that we need
to fight to get down into the entrance to the cave. Once through the narrow opening, we enter
a large cavern zone that opens up like a jug inside, which is where the spring gets its
name. At the bottom of the jug, the cave leads down
at an angle. Wayne ties a guideline and leads the way. I follow behind with my big camera, fighting
just to make forward progress against the strong current. Most well-visited caves like this one have
a warning sign to remind divers who aren’t cave trained to stay out. I push past the warning sign, leaving the
cavern zone where you can still see light from the opening. Soon we arrive at a wide but very low section
of cave. It barely looks like anyone can fit in there,
but Wayne squeezes right in. As I push in behind him, I realize that my
camera is almost too large to fit. This wide, but low section of cave is called
the bedding plane. There was a layer of softer rock in this space,
but it was dissolved away by the water, leaving the harder rock on the ceiling and floor. The current through here is very strong. Cameraman Todd and I have to claw our way
forward. It’s not a place for the claustrophobic. And it’s also not an easy place to work
a camera! On the far side of the bedding plane, we come
out into a larger chamber, and since there is more space, the current is lower. In many caves, the sandy bottom in this chamber
would be a big hazard, but in this cave, any silt we kick up is carried away immediately. At the far end of the big chamber, just as
I am getting used to the gentle current, we reach a tiny restriction. This cave is famous for this restriction. If you can’t get through, this is as far
as you can go. Wayne shows me the right body angle to get
through. And he goes first to demonstrate. Most back-mount divers have to take their
scuba tanks off to get through here. But with sidemount, we can squeeze through. Again, my camera is so big that I’m more
concerned about banging it on the rocks than I am about getting through the restriction. The current through this tiny restriction
is so powerful that I have to pull myself through. My fins are useless. Two swimming pools a minute are flowing through
this restriction. I’m like a salmon fighting my way up the
rapids. Todd comes through too, and we continue on
our way. As we work our way deeper into the cave, we
are now about 100 feet deep and 400 feet into the cave. The passages are getting smaller. I find a bone on the cave floor, most likely
dating back to a time during the last ice age perhaps 15,000 years ago, when this cave
was dry and animals could walk in here. Soon we reach the end of the line—literally. 550 feet from the entrance. This is as far as divers can fit in this cave. We go around a corner into a section of the
cave with no flow. In here the water is stagnant—and murky. Time to turn around and head back out. But things are a little different on the way
out. Now we are going with the current. You might thing that makes it easier, since
we don’t have to fight the current. But now we have two different problems. First, the current is trying to throw us into
the rocks and push us through restrictions from behind. Second, if we kick up silt, it travels downstream
with us, instead of being whooshed away downstream while we swim upstream. When we get back to the restriction, Todd
and Wayne head through first, then I squeeze through with the water pushing me hard from
behind. Back at the bedding plane we stop for some
pictures with underwater photographer Gene Page. Finally we head back out into the cavern zone
to decompress. While I’m decompressing I have time to think
about this dive and compare it to other caves I have visited. In the Bahamas and the Yucatan, the caves
tend to have a lot of fragile formations, almost no current and salt water under the
fresh water. The caves in Florida tend to be all fresh
water, often with strong water flow and very little in the way of ornamentation. It’s a different kind of cave diving. You don’t have to be as concerned about
breaking fragile formations but you do have to fight the current. No matter what kind of caves I’m diving
into, cave diving is an exhilarating sport that satisfies my urge to explore the unknown. And with the caves of Florida so close and
convenient, I’ll definitely be back to Wayne’s shop for more cave diving soon!

100 thoughts on “Florida Cave Diving | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. Jonathan, thank you for taking the time to create these videos and share the blue world with us. Your channel deserves far more recognition and support.

  2. So if that tight area ever closes then the people will be in stuck in there an die.. nope ?? I will pass but it’s beautiful ? under water cave..

  3. This cave, as most in FL were NEVER dry. The bone is a relic/ fossil that was trapped in the limestone, and was released when the limestone around it dissolved.

  4. Adventurous video man!?? You got heart sir to go into that cave. But I think without camera it would have been a fun??

  5. nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope

  6. This explains why cave diving is dangerous. So easy to get lost in those tiny holes. I would be interested to know which animals live in the caves.

  7. เป็นสถานที่น่าอัศจรรย์มากแห่งหนึ่งในฟลอริดา ขึ้นชื่อว่า ถ้ำเป็นสถานที่น่ากลัวมาก แต่มันก็สวยงาม และแปลกปละหลาด

  8. Just amazing and mesmerizing till the end. This is one of the dream I think I will never would able to see come true. I envy the steel cold nerve of these divers. Thank you so so much for sharing this wonderful treasure..

  9. Does anyone think that when Jonathan says hello everybody and welcome my world! Do you think that when he says it hes like the presedent of the world!

  10. Definitely more claustrophobic than the Bahama Caves. The entrance was wild (imagine the kid that found that/stories of the bottomless lagoon). But on the whole I liked the other caves better.

  11. Your documentary is full of positivity after all the negativity I have seen tonight, very informative also with enough warnings.
    Would you tell me gaz do you use to dive in these caves?

  12. It appears I'm the only diver that watched this.
    I LOVED this video.
    Great production quality and I liked the narrative.
    This is really clear for a Florida cave. Most of them are so murky compared to the Playa caves.

  13. It’s such good quality and so clear I keep forgetting they are underwater and not just caving. Cool hobby, not for me though…

  14. oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof ooof mm yyrr ee gg uu ll aa tt oo rrr dd ii ddd nn tt ww oo rr kk oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof oof

  15. Boy I got claustrophobic for you all in those tight spaces. Have there been kids that tried to go further because they are smaller and can fit through past the restriction points and have gotten into trouble?

  16. Who's the wee fishie at 9:17??? Creepy placey & I'd be worried about getting snagged in those tight restrictions…

  17. Great! I like to think i would try cave diving. What fish at 9:19 Jonathan? Catfish? Thanks! Please keep up the fantastic work.

  18. Coooooooooooooooooooooookooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooiooooooooooopopopooooiookooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool

  19. Wow i salute you sir Jonathan for doing this to have the most beautiful chanel. Pls keep safe! God bless blue world staff!?

  20. The people who do cave diving are so brave! Good for him having so much passion!
    But I’m not so much of a ocean person though, to be honest, I freaked out already at 5:13, I was even more scared at 5:35 and 9:29
    Well, this can be scary for most people. But I just like that passion he has for what he likes to do!
    ~thanks~

  21. That's scary. My brain can't stop thinking what if something happen and bla bla bla. Just look, how narrow it is. It must be very hard to get to surface ???

  22. Try diving hinatuan cave in Surigao del sur ??pretty much sure you'll get a great sight of wonders underneath an unknown waters.?

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