Dicromantispa interrupta

Dicromantispa interrupta

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bust Caving

When cavers go looking in areas for “new” caves, that is, caves that are not previously known to them, it’s called “ridgewalking.” The term originated in hilly or mountainous areas, where the word is appropriate. We use the word here in Florida, too, just to be consistent, but more often than not we are far from a ridge. So it was this day, Sunday, February 3, 2008.

Linda D, a friend of mine, had previously told me about a cavey area in Marion County, FL behind her house that had been looked at by Jennifer and her father, Warren, several years ago, but Linda didn’t know if they had found any caves there. She gave me permission to look for myself, so I called Sean and Al to accompany me. Al has been the main driving force behind the Florida Cave Survey for decades, and Sean and I have been surveying a few other caves lately.

When we arrived, Linda pointed out the direction and off we tromped thru the brush, shortly arriving at the edge of a sinkhole where two dry, intermittent streams joined, flowed across the length of the sink, and then sumped into the ground in 3 places. A fourth, small sink at the edge of the main sink looked like it had taken water in the distant past, but no longer (see pic). The main sink is appx 75ft wide by 125ft long.

All of the sumps are floored in sediments. Any cave down there will have to be dug into, which would take a lot of work and need a half-dozen or more volunteers. Al collected notes and photos for the FCS cave files, and I took a few pics also. Two of mine are reproduced here, one of Al taking notes beside the most promising (driest) dig, and the other of the sink bottomland hardwood forest dominated by sugarberry trees (Celtis laevigata). The hillside was carpeted with blooming violets – quite pretty!

We then drove to Citrus County, FL to an abandoned quarry that had been bought by a fellow who was concerned that there might be caves under his property. He didn’t want his house to fall in one, nor did he want to necessarily fill any in and cause problems for any critters that might reside therein.

The three of use met him at his house on site, and a short while later Tom, Jason and
Robert from the Tampa Bay area showed up and joined us. The owner, Edward, showed us all the holes in the ground that he had found so far, but only one was large enough to enter. And that one was not very large, being a body tube so tight that we could penetrate only about 20ft to a horizontal bedding plane passage that was maybe 6 – 8 inches in height.

I have posted one photo of a fern-draped hole too small to enter, and two shots of Jason coming slowly out of the body tube.

All in all, we found no caves. A bust day? Nah, any day spent out ridgewalking with friends in the beautiful Florida winter weather is a fine day, indeed!

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