Eli5: Why is cave diving so dangerous ? To the point people with 20+ years of diving experience refuse to do so.


Eli5: Why is cave diving so dangerous ? To the point people with 20+ years of diving experience refuse to do so.

In: 17403

Becoming disoriented is very easy. Swimming in an undisturbed area can easily stir up sediment to the point of zero visibility. Getting lost and running out of air is game over

Please see [this answer](https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/t9t4ig/eli5_why_is_cave_diving_so_dangerous_to_the_point/hzwgjku) for a more detailed answer. I was just giving what seemed to me to be the most obvious answer. In response to the most common replies:
1. it doesn’t matter if you can find your way out easily. You _still_ have to travel the same distance you went down _and_ the distance you traveled in the cave which is by necessity greater than if you could simply go up.
2. It doesn’t matter if you get the bends rising from 20m because you would _still_ have to travel back through the caves and then do the exact same rise and also get the bends.
3. Yes there are many other dangers and concerns. See the referenced comment above.

Original reply:

In open water if you’re in trouble you swim up.

In a cave you would have to find your way back out, meaning it’ll be a lot longer before you could surface even if you knew exactly how to get out.

You drive 20m down and swim horizontally for 500m, you’re still only 20m from the surface. Swim down 20m to a cave and 500m in the cave, you’re 520m from the surface.

Additionally it’s easier to find the surface if all you do is need to go up.

Certified cave diver here. Caves are hazardous for several major reasons, but this list isn’t everything:

(1) It’s a hard overhead environment. Unlike open water, you cannot swim up to safety. You have to solve your problem in place or be prepared to swim out, which can be several hundred yards or more.

(2) Orientation is more challenging. There are no sources of natural light. There may be little or no water current to help you establish direction. You need to be extraordinarily competent with mental mapping and setting/following navigation lines and markers without getting tangled.

(3) Cave dives are often significantly deeper and longer than a regular dive. We incur decompression obligations and have to manage our ascent/exit carefully so that we do not get the bends. We’re typically using more than one gas mixture (blends of air, oxygen, and helium) and we have to use them properly. The wrong gas at the wrong depth can kill you in less than a minute.

(4) Caves often have silty floors or muddy water. We have to move carefully and maintain impeccable technique to ensure that we don’t cause a “silt out” (dust cloud) that obscures everything.

(5) Our equipment is more complex. I carry a minimum of 2 of everything I need and 3 of anything that will save my life. My equipment for a cave dive weighs more than I do!

If you want to know. Read one of the many stories you can find on the internet about it.

Here is a decent one that always makes me feel very claustrophobic.

Think of all the challenges of exploring a cave. Going in a long, dark, winding maze of tunnels with no light except what you bring with you. The possibility of taking a wrong turn, or your map being incorrect, or some other circumstance that forces you into uncharted territory. The risk of getting stuck and being utterly helpless. The inability to communicate with anyone outside, meaning that your only hope for rescue is them realizing something’s gone wrong soon enough.

Now combine that with all the risks of deep-sea diving.