By Mark Synnott
Explorers in the Czech Republic may soon announce a new record for the world’s deepest underwater cave. Since July a team of cave divers from Poland has been probing the contours of Hranická Propast, located in eastern Czech Republic, currently acknowledged as the world’s second-deepest flooded cave. The team is sponsored in part by National Geographic and is led by Krzysztof Starnawski, 47, who holds the record for the deepest dive with a closed circuit rebreather—928 feet (283 meters)—which he set off the coast of Egypt in 2011.
Starnawski has been exploring Hranická Propast since 1999, and last year, after reaching what he thought was the bottom, 656 feet down (200 meters), he managed to push past a tiny gap called a “squeeze passage” where he discovered another deep shaft. He lowered a line which reached 1,260 feet (384 meters) before running out of cord—only 26 feet (8 meters) short of Italy’s Pozzo del Merro cave, which currently holds the title of world’s deepest underwater cave.
In early July Starnawski descended with a longer cable in hopes of making a new, deeper measurement, but since his last dive there in February, the squeeze passage had collapsed and fallen into the second shaft. The squeeze passage had become an open gallery, but when he lowered the cable into the second shaft, it touched down at 1,214 feet (370 meters), likely having landed on the debris from the cave-in.
The team took a break when a member of their team was lost in diving accident in the Baltic Sea, but Starnawski has not given up and recently returned to the cave. On August 21st he descended to a depth of 869 feet (265 meters) to look for new passages to launch the probe. In the coming weeks he hopes to finally prove what he has long suspected: that Hranicka Propast is the deepest underwater cave system on earth.
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source below.