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Pedro Great Cave

March 5, 2010

District: Pedro

Parish: Clarendon

WGS84 L/L: (Reserved)

JAD2001: (Reserved)

JAD69: (Reserved)

Altitude: 460m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- 5m horizontal; +/- 10m vertical


Type: Dry passage

Accessibility: Walk-in

Depth: N/A

Length: 460m

Explorers: Leeds - 1963

Survey: Leeds

JU Ref: pg 283

JU Map: pg 285

Entrance size: 1.5m W, 2m H

Entrance aspect: 20

Vegetation in general locale: Scrub

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Geology: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Poor

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None seen

Archaeo resources: None seen

Hydrology: Dry

Dark zone: >95%.

Climate: 25 deg C, humid.

Bats: >5,000

Bat guano: Much

Guano mining: Occasional

Guano condition: Compact, fresh/fluff

Visitation: Occasional

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: Some

Trash: Little

Ownership: Private

Protection: None

Vulnerability: High

Pedro Great Cave
March 5, 2010
Team: RS Stewart, A Ekparian, D Selvyn
Notes: RS Stewart

Pedro Great Cave was first visited by the JCO on October 11, 2006, by Stewart and Slack, but a GPS position and approach track were not recorded. A return visit took place on March 5, 2010, in assistance to NEPA and their studies of the bats of the island. The location coordinates have not been posted in the online version of these notes because of the sensitive nature of the site, but are available on request for research purposes.

The site was relocated with the pro bono assistance of Bradley Palmer, who took several hours out of his day to not only guide us to the entrance, but also dig several wild Renta yams and find a large bunch of wild bananas while we were in the cave (he wasn't interested in coming in) that he gave to us after the visit. The yams were large, and quite delicious, having grown directly in front of the entrance where they were well-fertilized by deposits of guano from the bats that fly in and out every night. They were shared by Donovan and Stefan with bredren and sistren in Pollyground, our base during that part of the expedition, and all agreed that they were amongst the best we've ever eaten.

The entrance is quite small for such a large cave, only 1.5m wide by 2m high, but this immediately gives way to a large passage about 15m wide and over 10m high. The bat roost begins about two-thirds of the way to the "extension", which is reached by a crawl on the left, and has total numbers in the thousands. Much fresh/fluff guano is responsible for the presence of many fungus gnats, to the point where travel through the cave is difficult without use of a mask. There are no roaches present due to limited guano mining activity. The entrance is close to cow pastures, but not to cultivated crops. Bat occupancy is not as high as it should be (many bellholes unoccupied), this perhaps associated with the poor foraging conditions external to the cave. The local district has suffered from much deforestation on the hills, and the lowlands have all been converted to pasture.

Invertebrates include cave crickets, the spider G. cavernicola, and amblypygids. No onychophora were seen, although this is the site where Dr Stewart Peck found four Speloperipatus speleus, described by him in 1972. A return has been put on the to-do list to spend more time, with masks, looking for this very special and rare creature.

Two of the three JCO members involved picked up quite a few grasslice on both the approach and departure from the cave. The third had sprayed his pants with Pyro beforehand.

J Pauel and RS Stewart returned to the cave with NEPA, and Susan Koenig of the WRC, on March 11 for capture and release netting, this done entirely pro bono. Information follows:

A harptrap was used at the entrance. Local sunset was 18:17. The first bat entered the trap at 17:55, a Pteronotus parnellii. Capture and release continued until 20:20, during which many more parnellii were caught, as well as Glossophaga sorcina, Monophyllus redmani, Moormoops blainvillii, and Artibeus jamaicensis. In total, 130 bats were examined, and 40 more were identified and immediately released.

Shortly before sunset, a strong, cool breeze began to blow out of the entrance. A pertinent quote from Jamaica Underground follows: "The 1963 Leeds party had chipped away 2 stal barriers along the right hand exit from 3-ways and had been conscious of a draft blowing through. Howard Frank, following the same route was surprised on this trip to find a large number of bats emerging from the passage in front of him."

During the JCO visit in 2006, we found the passage mentioned above to be partially blocked with silt, with only about 20cm of vertical space left, this perhaps caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. No airflow was noticed. To speculate, heavy rains since then have cleared some of the silt out, and the passage is again more open. We did not enter the passage in 2010, but will investigate current conditions when we return.

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