Jamaican Caving Notes
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Flood Exit Cave
April 4, 2005
Team: Stewart, Roggy, Loftin.
Notes: RS Stewart
Flood Exit Cave was investigated by our team immediately after we had completed a journey through Windsor Cave (from the Main Entrance to the Bamboo Bottom Entrance), as it is located only a short distance away (300m at 85 deg true) in the northern section of Bamboo Bottom glade. It can be easily found by following the main course of the deep seasonal streambed that crosses this part of the bottomland, upstream, until a boulder breakdown is found beneath a cliff of apx 12m height. A scramble down through the boulders, on the side against the cliff, leads to a stream-passage of good size that bears directly into the hill above. The width of this passage is 10-13 metres, and it is 3-6 metres high. The floor is somewhat bouldered in places, with sharp echinolith present (resulting in at least one bad cut this day by one of our crew), but overall, the main characteristic is fine-grained mud that is very slippery to walk on. The mud is deposited by the seasonal river that resurges here after having sunk at the downstream end of the Bad Hole seasonal stream. It should be noted that we saw no actual detritus, sticks, leaves, bamboo, in the cave, and there is filtering going on at the sink where these waters are believed to originate.
The passage referred to above continues directly onwards, until at about 90 metres a T-junction is reached. To the right, it soon chokes in breakdown, but to the left it carries on for another 30-40 metres to finally end in an upstream static sump. This is of course in dry times, because when the cave floods, it does so to the roof of the entrance passage, with the source thought to be the upstream sump.
In various parts of the passage, in dry-season, remnant water remains pooled, in places 3-4 metres wide and one metre deep.
Flood Exit had been visited once before by one of us (Stewart) in the late 1990's, and another visit had been made to the entrance on June 17, 2002, during flood-time, when a GPS position had been obtained. This would be the first visit made by us to specifically look for what might be found living in the cave, and it would turn out to be quite rewarding.
Dietrich, Mike and I, once we had arrived at the entrance, stopped for only a few minutes (to run the GPS), and then soon scrambled down through the rocks to have a look at things. From the thorough coating of mud encountered on many of the surfaces as we did this, it was apparent that the resurgence had been very lively during Hurricane Ivan, the autumn before. Moving carefully, we made our way down to the passage, and then spent a minute dark-adapting before carrying on.
The plan we followed was to slowly make our way to the terminal sump, noting places with bio potential, and then work our way back, stopping frequently, to look more closely. My interest in the sump was two-fold: what might be living in it, and whether I could spy any openings beneath the water that might be ducked into continuing passage. Within about 20 minutes, I was once again at the sump, last seen by me over 5 years before, and remembering the problem that I'd had before in this spot.
The sump that seasonally feeds Flood Exit Cave is at the very end of the stream-passage, with a vertical wall several metres high rising from it on the far side. It is about 12 metres at the widest point, and surrounded on the outer three quadrants by deep, soft, silt deposits that slope into the pool. To the left, the silt is some two metres higher than the water, and it is about a metre high on the nearside. The water is clear, and appears to be deep. The problem with seeing anything other than that just noted above is that it is impossible to get to the side of the pool without starting to sink deeply into the soft silt (with no real idea of where the bottom might be). I ran into that the first time, and again this time. I tried squishing up to the high spot on the left, so that I could get a better view down into it, but I was still too far back, and my light was at too shallow an angle. From the front, one could launch oneself with a running dive, and hit the clear water, and then drag oneself back out on a rope, but the water would be instantly murky as soon as you hit and the splashing started on the surrounding mud, so nothing would be seen anyway. You could still net, I suppose, but anything alive would have probably retreated to cracks in the wall as soon as you crashed into the water. Short story - I couldn't see evidence of a way on, other than perhaps some undercutting on the right side. I also saw no crabs from my vantage points, but we had already seen several on the way in, so this was not a concern. We turned around, and headed back out the passage to look at the various pools found along the way.
Sesarma verleyi are common in the remnant pools found here, but with marked variation in pigmentation. One specimen was completely colourless - pure white. Several legs were collected in total, from several crabs.
In one of the larger pools, a number of small shrimp were seen. The length was about 2cm, and the only pigmentation was a small yellow spot towards the head. An entire specimen was collected and preserved in 95% ethyl alcohol. Subsequent DNA analysis by Dr Christoph Schubart, at the University of Regensberg, revealed it as Troglocubanus jamaicensis.
Other than the stygobites listed above, there were no other macroinvertebrates present. This is not unexpected, due to the seasonal flooding.
This cave shows no signs of ever being used by bats, which is also not unexpected considering the flooding.
We are listing this cave with a medium vulnerability. Even though the cave is not currently visited by tourists, or people of the district, the presence of the relatively uncommon stygobitic shrimp, T. jamaicensis, and the damage that could be done to the population by walking through the pools where they live during dry-times, suggests a certain degree of protection is merited.
Having done what needed to be done, we left the cave, and hiked through some very thick bush until the Troy Trail was reached, via a route that I hoped would be shorter, but turned out to be very bushed-up. This was rather difficult, because we had no machete, but with some swearing and sweat we made it back to Windsor after an hour and a half, well before dark.
Flood Exit cave
April 4, 2005
Notes: DK Roggy
The entrance of this cave lies at the bottom of the undercut of a rocky escarpment, not far from the bamboo Bottom exit of Windsor Great Cave. The entrance is perhaps 1m high and 3 meters wide. After scrambling down the entrance we found ourselves in a passage of sharp, eroded limestone covered with very slick mud. It was hard to maintain one's footing, and I cut my hand when I slipped at one point.
After perhaps 100m, we came to a sump of still, clear water. The substrate had a significant amount of the same mud that had covered the rest of the passage. Making our way back to the entrance, we saw some white shrimp, about 2cm in length. I managed to catch one in my hand and we sealed it in a sample vial. We also came across an aquatic crab, resembling a Sesarma, but with apparently no pigmentation. We took a digital photo of it, and Stefan managed to get a leg piece from it. This cave was really yielding some interesting biological specimens, and I started wondering where the sump goes.
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