Cave Diving Training | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Cave Diving Training | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD


This time on on Jonathan Bird’s
Blue World, Jonathan goes to
the Bahamas for some special training! Hi I’m Jonathan Bird and
welcome to my world! [ Blue World theme music ♪ ] I’m deep in a cave. Blindfolded. Being spun around to
intentionally make me
disoriented. I’m completely lost. And now, I have to find my way out of
the cave all by myself━blind. I start by tying off a
guideline to a rock by feel alone. Then I grope around in the dark
for a while trying to find the
main line out of the cave. Eventually, I
do find the line, and I tie in. Then I follow
that line towards the cave
entrance. You might be wondering, what am I doing? In the past few years I have
become really interested in
cave diving, so I thought it
was time to finally advance my dive training to a full cave
certification. Full cave certification is kind
of like the “black belt” of
scuba diving. It’s not easy. The training is intense,
designed to test your nerves and your confidence. It has to
be, because underwater caves are dangerous.
If you get lost and run out of air, you will die.
The training is designed to
teach divers not to panic, not to get
lost, and never to run out of air.So obviously
choosing the right instructor is important. That’s
why I contacted Brian Kakuk, one of the world’s
most famous and respected cave explorers–known for his
impressive discoveries and
passionate efforts to protect some of the
world’s most fragile and
vulnerable caves. Caves are his passion, but
Brian also spent years as a dive safety officer
working on big Hollywood film
productions, like the Pirates of the
Caribbean movies, and many
others. Brian agreed to accept me as a
student, but he wouldn’t go
easy on me because I’m a TV guy. In
fact, photographers often do the most damage to caves with
big, cumbersome cameras, so I
would have to work extra hard to earn
his approval. Brian is based out of Abaco, an
island in the Bahamas known in
the cave diving community as the home of
the most exquisitely decorated caves in the world. So my training begins with a flight to the Bahamas. And I
have no idea what I’m in for! Brian picks me up and then it’s off to his shop
to show me how to get some of
my new cave diving gear gear set up. The hardest thing
for me will be my new sidemount
gear. Sidemount diving is something
completely new to me. BRIAN: It’s a lot easier to do
it with a cam-band than it is
with a stainless band. Cameraman Todd is already cave
certified but sidemount diving
is new to him as well, so Brian also helps set up his .
BRIAN: We want this to end up
in the thorax right here. Sidemount is a style of diving
where the diver wears the scuba
tanks on the sides, instead of
the back. Not only is it a lot more
comfortable than wearing both
scuba tanks on your back, but
it creates a lower profile, so you can fit
through smaller restrictions like this. Because the caves in
Abaco are filled with small restrictions and delicate
formations, a lower profile
means less damage to the cave and
more places you can go. But before I can start diving,
there is a lecture in the classroom. You
are never too old to go back to school and learn something new.
My progression from open water
diver to full cave certification will
take at least 8 long 12-hour
days of instruction in both the
classroom and the water. Otis has heard this one a
million times. BRIAN: We talked a little bit
about signaling. Diver 1,
instead of having to turn around and ask everybody “Are you OK?”
he’ll shine his light up here
and say “Hey are you guys OK?” Big circle on the wall, where e is a critical skill in cave
diving, we head out into the
parking lot for some dry practice.
BRIAN: If you don’t check your
buoyancy first, you are going
to be doing is this: pushing off, pushing off,
trying to get this undone, and you are going to keep
falling down or floating up, so the first thing you do when
you find a tie-off is you come
up to it, and hover, neutrally
buoyant. Now I can reach back, unclip
this and bring it forward. Alright, so buoyancy first, alw
Buoyancy will become a common
theme in my class. Cave divers must
exhibit near perfect buoyancy not only to keep from
breaking the formations in the
cave, but to keep from kicking up
silt. First Brian runs a
guideline around an imaginary cave.
BRIAN: What you’re going to do
is first, stop. Buoyancy.
Then it’s time for me to learn
some guideline techniques.
JONATHAN: one, two…BRIAN:
Yes. Just like that
JONATHAN: And then I’m going
to do one, two. BRIAN: There you go!
But I’m not just learning how
to run a guideline. I also have to learn how to use
it in an emergency, such as in the pitch dark. So I have to
practice with my eyes closed. And no, I’m not cheating.
BRIAN: You really want to keep
your head down. So you want that hand to be the
highest point. Back in the shop we make a few
last minute gear adjustments. Then it’s finally time to head
over to Dan’s Cave for some
in-water skills. We load up Brian’s big
van full of gear. Then it’s off to the cave. Dan’s cave is located about 35
minutes south of Brian’s shop near town. We
drive south a while and then
turn off down an old logging road to get
there. We travel into the middle of a huge pine forest. Finally, we arrive at a small clearing. Brian keeps the place
tidy, the grass mowed, and has even built some small
structures to hang and dry the
gear. For the ultimate in luxury, he
sets up an awning to give us a
little shade from the hot Bahamian sun as we put our
gear together. After years of anticipation, I
get my first glimpse of the
cave where I will be doing 90% of my
training: Dan’s Cave. It’s beautiful and peaceful.
And small. It’s hard to imagine that this
tiny opening leads to miles of
caves that Brian has explored and
mapped.Smack dab in the middle
of nowhere, this little oasis attracts
life. Birds are chirping, hundreds of butterflies flit
about, and a curly-tail lizard watches us intently. To a chorus of frogs, we carry
our tanks down to the water. With side mount, you don your
tanks in the water, so we rig up our tanks with
regulators, and then carry them
down to the cave entrance and set them
where we will be able to reach
up and get them once we are in
the water. Cave diving requires a lot of specialized gear. Even the
regulators. With cave diving you might have
to go through a passageway that
is so narrow that you have to go single
file. What would you do if you
had to share air with a diver that was out of air? Well, you
would need a really long hose
to reach someone in front of you. So one of the
regulators in my sidemount kit is 7 feet long. I coil it up
here, and I can still breathe off of
it myself, but if its needed I
can pull it all out and I can give it to
someone that’s out of air and follow behind them in a narrow
passage. Since the water is only around
75 degrees, a wetsuit is
necessary to keep warm. Then I don my sidemount
harness, which is kind of like
the buoyancy compensator I normally use, but there’s no
tank strapped on the back. In the water, I clip my tanks to my harness, run my hoses,
check my gas, test my regulators and inflator valve,
and test my lights. You might wonder why we wear
helmets. They look goofy but it’s better than whacking your
head on a rock ceiling, and
it’s a convenient place to
mount a backup light or two. When I’m ready, Brian and I do
a very careful check of each
other. In cave diving, small equipment
issues can quickly turn into big problems. So catching
anything small now is important. JONATHAN: Are we good to go? BR
Finally we are ready to submerge, and I have to
practice tying off our reel, in
what is called the primary tie-off. Then we descend down into the
cavern. I continue to make tie-offs
where Brian tells me to. He is having me practice on all
kinds of different shapes. [ music ♪ ] Finally we make the final
tie-off, called a “terminal” tie off right next
to the Stop sign. The stop sign signifies the end
of the cavern zone: the part of
the cave where you can still see light from the
opening. I can’t go past this
sign at this stage of my training.The
first exercise I have to perform is a
simulation of a blind
navigation in an out of air situation. I am breathing from
Brian’s long-hose regulator
while following the guideline with my
eyes shut, and he is using me
as his guide by holding my arm. Then
we switch positions and he is the one out of air.
Normally this would be done
with our lights off in the dark, but we need light for
Todd to film it, so I have to
promise to keep my eyes shut. We navigate all the way back to
entrance. Doing it with my eyes closed
builds confidence in the guideline system and it’s my
job to practice retrieving the
line by spooling it back up. Getting out of the water is the
opposite of getting in━you take your tanks
off before you climb out. That was super awesome! We drag our gear out of the
water, and haul it back up to
the truck. Cave diving is a lot of work,
but at least you never get
seasick! Soon we take apart our portable
base camp and head back to
Brian’s shop. As the sun sets over Marsh
Harbour, I can rest a little, but that
was only day 1. I have another 8 days of
training still to go! Every morning of my training
starts the same way. Bright and early, I’m back in
the classroom trying to
remember a lot of new terms, definitions, rules and tips as
Brian works his way through from the basics to the more
advanced concepts. And after the classroom
session, we analyze our tanks,
and load the van. Finally we’re on our way again! At the cave site, Brian has
another guideline exercise for
me━finding a lost guideline in the dark. I
have to promise to keep my eyes
shut again as Brian spins me around so I
don’t know where the line is. If I cheat, I’m only cheating
myself, because I won’t learn
how this is done. The first step is to tie off to
something so I can find where I started. Keep in mind, my
eyes are shut, I have to do this by feel
alone. Then, I pick a direction, moving slowly while sweeping my
arm up and down to try to catch the guideline
that will lead me to safety. In my first attempt, I’m going the wrong way.
JONATHAN: Well, I feel like I
might have gone too far. Since I have gone far enough
that I should have found the
line by then, I go back to the starting point
by reeling myself back in. Then, using my hands and the position of the line I
tied, I pick a new direction. Success! I find the guideline
and tie my reel in! Now I have
to figure out which way is out.
JONATHAN: Okay, so this is
tied in now. Line arrows on the guideline
always point the way out of the
cave. I don’t know which way is out
in this particular case,
because you just made it up. So I guess I’ll just go this wa.
BRIAN Radar, radar! So I feel along until I feel a
line arrow and figure out which way it’s pointing.
JONATHAN: Yup. Going the wrong way. The way out is this
way. BRIAN: Awesome.
JONATHAN: I swear I did not
cheat, I had my eyes shut! Somehow I have a sneaking
suspicion that I’m going to
have to do that again underwater. With the lost line drill over
with, it’s time to start
putting together our gear for
the dives. Once again, we huff our gear to
the cave. [music ♪ ] Today, which is the third day
of my training, we will be
going past the stop sign. I’m now past the
cavern part of the training. It’s real cave time! Brian has me lead for a while
and just when I’m thinking this
is going to be an easy dive, he springs another blind
out-of-air drill on me. My training dives are not all
blind exercises though. Throughout the course, as I
progress from Intro to Cave
Diver to Apprentice Cave Diver, and
finally full cave diver, Brian
takes me and Todd to see the sights,
practice our sidemount skills,
and sometimes snake our way through
the swiss cheese limestone. Everywhere I look, Dan’s cave
is full of wonders. Moving through crystal clear
water, we pass innumerable extremely fragile
formations that took thousands of years to form. In one room, a massive column, 30 feet tall, and ornamented
like a huge candle of dripping wax–but made of solid stone,
deposited over a thousand years or more. Dan’s cave is a treasure chest
of formations the likes of which I
have never seen. On one ceiling, the stalactites are short and
knobby. Not far away, they are long,
and smooth like icicles, formed of the
purest white crystal. In a large room some 700 feet
from the entrance, a formation Brian calls Aristotle’s head.
See it? To me it looks like his head on
a duck. Further in, we enter a forest
of tall, slender columns. Ever so gently, Todd and I follow Brian
through. If I ever broke one of these ancient, beautiful
formations I would never
forgive myself. We move gently and carefully
with absolute buoyancy control. Soon we reach our thirds━one
third of our air supply, and it’s time to turn around
and head back towards the
entrance. On the way out, Brian spots a
Remipede, a type of rare blind crustacean that only
lives in caves. With its two large antennae,
this little guy is called the
Hammerhead ramipede. We also find a blind Bahamian
cavefish━the super-predator in the cave━only a few inches
long. We pass the stop sign, back
into the cavern zone and I can see the light above from
the opening. We do a safety stop at 15 feet for three minutes, just as we
would in open water, to be sure
nobody has any decompression sickness issues. And then, it’s back to the
light of day! BRIAN: We had to do more
lights-out drills, where he has
to follow the line by feel. And then we kinda stepped up the difficulty by having an
out-of-air situation at the
same time. And then we stepped that up to
having to go through a tiny little hole single file with
zero lights and also sharing air too.
JONATHAN: Honestly it was fun, but I know I’m with the guy
that knows the way out, you
know what I mean? So I’m not too worried.
BRIAN: Well, you did all the
navigation coming out on your
own, right? JONATHAN: We made it back to th! On the last day of my training
I have to take the final. It’s not just a multiple choice
exam, but in fact has mostly essay questions. It has been a
while since I have taken an
exam and this one takes three hours! Just to make it even more
nerve-wracking, Brian reads and grades it while
I sit there. But fortunately, he likes it,
and…. BRIAN: Congratulations!
JONATHAN: Yes, I’m a cave
diver! I pass! I get my Cave Diving
certification card! Cave diving isn’t for everyone.
It requires a lot of training
to be safe, and a tolerance for
claustrophobia. But for the people who choose
to venture into these remote
underground worlds, the rewards are immense. My new
cave training has opened my eyes to new diving
techniques and paved the way for many more future
adventures. You just might be
seeing a few more cave stories here in
the Blue World. [ music ♪ ]

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

  1. I knew scuba diving, especially cave diving, is not that easy but until now I never realized how much attention to details and care is needed, even for just making the very first step into a cave, and for safety reasons.  Jonathan, at certain points in the cave, are you sure that there was water in them? I was amazed by the clarity and stillness of the water. You three seemed like your were floating in mid air.  Thanks for this great video! You and your team do a marvellous job! Keep it up, all of you.   Oh, by the way, Jonathan, congratulations for you cave diving certificate achievement.

  2. Why was there a new person telling you what happens in the video?
    I mean at the begininning.
    If I recall correctly, the old one was Art Cohen?

  3. Wow, you need a wetsuit for 75 degree water. Johnathan Bird, you may call me crazy but I went swimming shirtless on a 42 degree water and didn't get sick!

  4. Congrats Jonathan, on your new certification! My daughter and I can't wait to see more cave videos! Your team is doing a great job!!

  5. Congratulations on earning your cave diving certificate, Jonathon. I'm a little curious to how many diving certificates he has achieved now. I assume a lot.

  6. WOOOOW…God's creations are truly amazing… Great video Jonathan and I see that it is a lot of work and training. There is a lot more to see under the water than on land. I love the water and there is always something new to see even when you dive same place before. keep up the GREAT work.

  7. Im becoming a certifided scuba diver!!!!! I want to be just like you one day!!!! Your my hero. I love what you do. Im 13 right now. I went on a cruise to the bahamas and scuba dived for the first time!! It was awesome!!! One day i hope i can go scuba diving with you. Your amazing.

  8. this is such a great show!! very informative! very well put together! it keeps one intrigued the entire time, and I get sad when the video is over 🙁
    fantastic job Jonathan!!!! keep up the great work!! can't wait for more videos.

  9. Hello…my son is 6yrs old named Dereck and he loves watching your videos. He has learned much from you. He wants me to tell you that as soon as he learns to swim he hopes he can swim with you one day!!!

  10. Hi, I have been really into your episodes lately on my school account. When I am older I want to be a Veterinarian for Sea Mammals and turtles. I was wondering if you knew any good semester programs I can participate in. And keep up the awesome videos.

  11. i'm a big fan of your work jonathan, keep it up. Also, by any chance would it be possible for you to do a segment on ocean sunfish. They are such majestic and unique creatures that are not much given much attention on, it would be great if i can understand them better.

  12. Hey Jonathan and crew I'm not sure you remember me but I was just a simple person with a dream to dive for a livng but for economic reasons I couldn't enroll on a course or much less buy my gear. Still after maybe three years I'm enrolling on my advanced course and own my own gear. With hard work and patience almost anything is possible and I wanted to thank you for inspiring me and many many others to learn and protect our blue world. I hope that someday I am able to help our oceans in a relevant way and you guys keep doing such a great job. I've never been happier and if anyone else is reading this all I say is I thought I would never be able to be where I am now but such is life. If you really want it go and get it…!!! It is never too late…

  13. I'm a little jealous Jonathan.
    Congratulations with your cave diving certification!
    Just to let you know, I love your videos! Keep it up!
    🙂 😉

  14. +blue world TV
    my name is Katie
    & I just wanna know
    of how long have u
    been doing your shows
    or your really cool shows
    & I always love watching'
    your shows. Its just Amazing!

  15. could you please make a series about diving tips and tricks, like in equipment and for new divers. Because you are obviously an experienced diver, thanks.
    by the way, i love your videos, they combine my 3 passions, nature, photography, and diving.
    and just in case it wasn't too obvious, you inspire many people like me

  16. I love watching your videos so much Jonathan!! They are so interesting and you truly are such an inspiring person!! I cried when you got your cave diving certification haha!! Don't ever stop doing what your doing!! I'm your number 1 fan!! Xxx

  17. Cave diving sounds like a bunch of training to just swim in small spaces, I prefer Open Water diving so much more fun and easier!

  18. It would appear from the video that caving ""without"" proper instruction and certification is a form suicide. Had no idea of the detail planning and procedures for caving that far exceed the average recreational divers training. Well done. Outstanding photography and imagery resolution.

  19. I seriously love your cave diving videos. 🙂
    But out of all the cave diving you did, which was your best dive?

  20. There was always something about cave diving which intrigued me..after watching the episodes I am sure I am doing this ..this is marvellous thanks jonathon..🌊

  21. What are the prerequisates for cave diving training? Sounds like you might need some night dive experience at the very least?

  22. Oh Hell Naw!!! Diving is scary enough AND I suffer from claustrophobia and agoraphobia. I did my first dive in Crete a couple of weeks ago and it was somewhat traumatic. I don't think I"m gonna quit, though.

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