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PADI Cavern Diver Course

A fascinating world of beauty and excitement lies beneath the crystal clear waters found in the world's springs, sink holes and cenotes. Along with this unequaled adventure comes the higher risk associated with entering an overhead environment on scuba equipment. Specialized procedures and techniques are mandatory in order to insure that the explorer makes a safe return to the surface. The PADI Cavern specialty is designed to provide participants with the knowledge needed to explore this fascinating environment.

[A cavern diver explores Ginnie Springs]
© Jeff Kuehn, 2000

The purpose of the PADI Cavern Diver specialty course is to familiarize divers with the skills, knowledge, planning, organization, procedures, techniques, problems and hazards of cavern diving. The Cavern Diver course is intended to provide a safe, supervised introduction to diving in natural overhead environments. However, although the course introduces students to the myriad skills, procedures and techniques that cavern diving has in common with cave diving, the Cavern Diver course is not intended to provide an introduction nor enticement to cave diving.

Your Cavern Diver training will emphasize conservation, safety and enjoyment. The goals of PADI Cavern Diver training are: To develop the student's practical knowledge of the cavern environment. To raise the student's awareness of the need for conservation and positive landowner relations. To familiarize the student with the three direct and two major contributing causes of cave and cavern diving fatalities ("Accident Analysis") and how they form the basis of the safety rules around which this course and all subsequent cavern dives revolve. And, finally, to enable the student to plan and organize dives to safely explore caverns that fall within the stated limitations of Cavern Diver training and that offer conditions as good as the caverns in which the student was trained.

Prerequisite certification for participation in the PADI Cavern Diver course is PADI Advanced Open Water or an equivalent rating. Participants must be at least 18 years of age. Students are required to supply the following equipment: Mask and fins; Exposure suit; Weight system; BCD with low-pressure Inflator; Regulator with submersible pressure gauge; Alternate air source suitable for sharing air with other divers and which is connected directly to the diver's primary air supply, (use of "H" or "Y" valve highly encouraged); A single diving cylinder with at least 50 cubic feet of air, (larger tank highly recommended); Recreational Dive Planner (tables or wheel); Dive tool or knife capable of cutting guideline quickly and effectively; Slate with pencil; Logbook. In addition to these standard equipment items the following specialty equipment is required: Reel and guideline - one per team minimum, one per diver highly recommended (maximum capacity 140' of line); Primary, battery-powered dive light; Backup, battery-powered dive light. While not required, students are encouraged to purchase a copy of The NSS-CDS Cavern Diving Manual.

[Stop, without cave diver training go no further}

Your Cavern Diver specialty course will include three in-depth classroom lecture sessions. Additionally, there will be both land & confined water (pool) sessions to familiarize you with proper line reel use. Certification dives will consist of four dives, two per day, at two different sites, plus shallow-water line drills outside of the overhead environment. Penetration training dives are limited to within direct sight of the cavern exit and

within 130 feet from the surface, vertical and horizontal distance included. Visibility is to exceed 40 feet. Maximum depth during training dives will be 70 fsw.

Enrollment Form


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