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MAY 08, 2003

MOCHO CAVE


Position: WGS84 - 18 25 04.1 N, 77 53 59.0 W, +/- 20m

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, Ian Blake, Hugh Stubbs, Gary Garden, Neil Jones, Nya

I arrived at MoBay at 9:30 in the morning and wanted to accomplish something that day, so the plan was for me to hit a cave near Anchovy, St. James, on the way from the airport. Arrangements were already in place thanks to Joan Blake, a Jamaican ex-pat living in Canada, who had reported the cave and suggested that I might find it interesting. The cave was reported by the GSD in 1951 to have a large bat population, and the lack of roads in the immediate vicinity indicated that the cave might remain relatively undisturbed. It seemed like a good prospect for the database that Andrea Donaldson of NEPA is compiling.

After several unavoidable delays, I got to Wales Pond, St. James, at about 11:30 AM. I was able to link quickly with Ian Blake, Joan's nephew, and Hugh Stubbs, a friend of Ian's who was familiar with the cave. Several of their friends had decided to come along to see what we were up to, so after quick introdutions, getting water, and spraying on pyro, we were six people hiking into the hills to the east of Wales Pond.

Jah had anticipated my arrival on the island, and accordingly, the rainy season began as we hiked to Mocho Cave. In a light drizzle, we followed a trail through pasture land until we arrived at the base of a large ridge that rose to the south. A long, steep, hike up the ridge at last brought us to a saddle where it was realized that the track we had just ascended was not the one that we sought. The hike down the ridge was much easier and we soon returned to the bottom, moved across to the east, then hiked up a much shorter distance to soon find the entrance to Mocho Cave.

The entrance to this cave lies in a saddle, faces north, is about 8 metres wide by 10 m high, and is at an angle of about 35 degrees from the horizontal. A scramble of about 6 metres down into the entrance chamber takes one to the start of the large passage that runs S then SW and comprises most of the cave. Great difficulty was encountered in obtaining a GPS position due to canopy, placement in a saddle, and thick clouds with heavy rain. It was necessary to pace downslope into a more open area to get a fix then afterwards work out the true position. The position is stated as +/- 30 m as a result, but through comparison with the topo it is believed that the position is more accurate than this.

A careful search was begun at the dripline for troglobites and troglophiles. This cave has not been invaded by American Roaches, (none seen at all), so a good variety of invert species were present.

A close inspection of the bat population was made. The colony cannot be described as large. It suggests that the numbers are greatly decreased since the GSD visit of 1951. The guano deposits are in places untouched, but evidence of small-scale mining is apparent and has disturbed the more easily accessible deposits. Bottle torches are the main source of light for those of the district that remove the guano. The stal formations, though not extensive, are in pretty good shape. The cave appears to be have had a phreatic origin but after becoming dry has been enlarged by breakdown processes.

No bone breccia was found.

This cave continues to be of great value despite being somewhat degraded. It is hoped that it might be given some degree of protection in the future.
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