The Cave Divers

By Michelle Danner

The Cave Divers, Robert F. Burgess, Aqua Quest Publications, Inc. (800) 933-8989
Cave diving is an adventure. The sport is more about the challenge than the discovery. Author Robert F. Burgess says it best in The Cave Divers: “The only similarity between Mt. Everest and what lies underground for explorers on the Huautla Plateau is in the nature of the beasts. One was a visual enigma until it was conquered; the other is a blind one. If it wasn’t so impossible…[people] wouldn’t be there trying to do it in the first place.”

Early cave divers found themselves immersed in darkness, holding their breath, using the walls as a compass. Graham Balcombe and J.A. Sheppard were the first cave divers to use a “breathing apparatus” for a dive in Somersetshire, in southwestern England, in 1934. Their only connection to air was 40 feet of garden hose connected to a respirator made from an old bicycle frame.

True adventurers to this day, cave divers have discovered ancient carvings and historical artifacts over the years. An award-winning book, The Cave Divers details the history of cave diving from the discovery of 20,000-year-old clay statues in 1932 by a French speleologist on a one-day adventure to today’s year-long treks into 30,000 feet of cavernous beauty and discovery.

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