Cave - Staff Portal Camas School District

Cave - Staff Portal Camas School District

1 covers the sea like a blanket. For the past

six months, the sun hasn't shone in Antarctica.

Now, in early October, the sun hangs low in the

sky. In the light, this place looks lifeless. It's not.

Fish, sea stars, plankton, and more live

hidden just below the sea ice. Most living

things would die instantly in this cold, dark

place. The creatures here thrive, though.

They have found ways to maintain

homeostasis. That's a perfect balance of such

things as temperature, oxygen, and energy

needed to survive. They may live in an extreme

habitat. Yet on the inside, they are just fine.


How? wonders oceanographer Stacy Kim.

She decides to dive in to find out. First, she

needs to make sure she can survive in their

world. She straps on a tank of oxygen so she

can breathe underwater. She grabs a fl ashlight

to help her see in the dark.

Lastly, she zips up her diving suit. The water

here is _2° Celsius (28.4° Fahrenheit). That's

cold enough to kill an unprotected diver in

minutes. The suit keeps her dry and a little

warm. Even so, she knows she can only survive

about an hour under the ice before she gets

dangerously cold.

life under the ice sounds tough, check out

this cave in Mexico. Like the sea ice habitat,

some places in the cave are always dark. There's

a more extreme problem with this place,

though. The air and water are full of toxic gases.

Welcome to Cueva de Villa Luz. It's also

called Mexico's poisonous cave. The air here

can kill a human in minutes.

Yet insects, fish, bats, and other organisms

make this deadly cave their home. In fact,

some of them need the poison gases to survive.

Biologist Diana Northup wants to know more

about these odd adaptations.


Outside the cave, Northup notices a stream

trickling by. The gases have turned its water a

milky color. She sniffs the air. It smells funny,

like rotten eggs. The smell comes from gases

deep inside the cave. Just a small whiff and she

feels dizzy.

Northup takes no risks. She straps a gas

mask over her nose and mouth. It will block

bad air, yet let oxygen in.

Northup also brings a tool to monitor the

air. If the air gets too poisonous, even the mask

won't save her. That's when the tool beeps a

warning. It tells her it's time to get out.

underwater caves, the problem isn't little

food, little light, or toxic gases. It's all three.

That doesn't stop National Geographic Explorer

Kenny Broad. He dives into some of the most

dangerous underwater caves in the world. They

are the saltwater blue holes in the Bahamas.

Like a caver, he must avoid toxic gases. Like

a diver, he must bring his own oxygen. Like

both, he needs to bring his own light. Then

there is the worst danger of all-getting lost.

These caves are like a maze. Getting lost

could be fatal. He can only survive underwater

as long as he has oxygen in his air tanks.


That's why Broad's guideline may be his

most important tool. It is a rope attached

to the entrance of the cave. He holds onto it

throughout his dive. If Broad takes a wrong

turn, the line is his only way out.

Broad and his team hike through a forest to

reach a blue hole. It looks like a pond. Broad

knows better. It's an entrance to a huge, hidden

world. Before diving in, he checks his gear

twice, and then again. Extra air tanks? Check.

Extra face mask? Check. Extra flashlights?

Check. He must be ready for any problem.

Finally, he drops into the dark water.

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines