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Mar 06, 2003

ROTA SINK:

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, I. C. Conolley, M. Taylor

Rota Sink is found close to the East Entrance of Rota Cave. As noted by others, it is not a sinkhole, it is a river cave. The name unfortunately is misleading and easily confused with the nearby Rota Cave. Nevertheless, it is a spectacular continuation of the Peterkin/Rota system. The river that disappears into fissures and choked passages at the east end of Rota cave reappears from cracks in the wall of the large entrance chamber of Rota Sink, up some 5 metres from the floor, and gushes into the cave in a long arc to then run broadly over flowstone waterfalls until it disappears into a river passage that heads off to the north.

We had come to this cave after having passed through Rota Cave from west to east. This was our first visit to Rota Sink, but we'd found it easily by compass using a bearing and distance from Rota Cave E that I'd worked out the night before. The entrance to this cave consists of a large breakdown chamber that can be entered from either north or south. The center of this chamber is a collapse into another chamber that is slightly to the east and gives entry to the start of the river passage.

Immediately upon our arrival at the entrance, we had scrambled down until we were on a boulder ledge some 12 metres above the floor of the next chamber. To the right, the river gushed from the wall some distance below us. To the left a nasty looking climb seemed to offer a rather dicey route down. We'd brought a rope with us, and one very long etrier, but not having anticipated such a vertical drop, we'd left the vertigear behind. At first glance it looked like a trip down, and up, the etrier, of about 8 metres. We began to rig for that but while we did we kept looking around the boulders to see if there were an easier way through. Ivor looked down one crevasse and said, maybe, so I had a look and gave it a try. It turned out to be quite do-able as a climb/scramble and I was down to the bottom in no time. Malibu and Ivor followed and joined me on a big rock just below, but to the side of, the arc of water jetting in from the wall.

While I snapped pictures, Malibu had a shower under the waterfall, and it was cool runnings all around. This spot is very beautiful. The water crashes in, flows through rimstone pools, over wide flowstone shelves, and then disappears into the river passage.

Sesarma verleyi were seen in pools. Bats were restricted to a small number of fruitbats. Unidentified inverts were seen.

Soon into the river passage, there is a wide pool, over 3 metres deep that required a swim to cross. There was reluctance to do this so it was agreed that a return visit would be made with life jackets next caving session.

We returned up through the boulders to the entrance, hauled the rope that had been dropped in as a hand-line, and went out to the north side of the entrance chamber. I tried to get a GPS position here but terrain and a poor satellite orientation prevented this. We crossed through the chamber and out to the south and I was able to get a fix 25 m, Az 180, from the opening to the first chamber, saved as wpt's 77/78.

This cave is a good candidate for bioinventory, and also due to it's position as the last accessible part of the Peterkin/Rota system would be a good site for water sampling.

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