1. Diving in an underwater cave is very different from diving in an open water environment
As a newer open water diver, I noticed that there were warning signs posted all over the place when my wife and I would visit one of the springs. Her open water instructor had delivered a pretty convincing argument against venturing into underwater caverns, and the students in that class seemed to respect the warning signs and images of divers’ skeletons piled up at the feet of the grim reaper.
It seems that many open water classes do not include the same cautionary tale that my wife received, as many open water divers routinely ignore these warnings and swim in to these overhead environments. Some of these divers have hundreds, if not thousands, of logged dives under their belt. Sometimes these divers are open water instructors.
Often times these divers wander into the overhead environment and make their way back out without incident. Sometimes, something goes wrong and the divers suffer a pretty good scare… .but make it home alive. Every now and then you’ll hear a story around the dive shop about somebody dying inside an underwater cave, but (from the perspective of the OW diver) it seems pretty rare.
From the perspective of those in the cave diving community, however, the reports of open water divers dying inside caves happen way too often – several times a year, if not more.
Combine this with the fact that some beautiful underwater caves have been permanently closed to all cave divers simply because a an non-cave-trained open water diver (that should never have been there in the first place) ignored the warning signs and unfortunately drowned and it’s easy to see why the cave diving community goes through so much trouble install and maintain the warning signs in thousands of locations around the world.