WKPP Update – May 5-6, 2006
Update by Casey McKinlay
After six long years of work focusing almost exclusively on scientific inquiry the time had come to return to the other pivotal work done by the WKPP; with some clear water we were ready to resume exploration of Wakulla Springs. Capitalizing on the success of our April 23 outing, we needed to get additional safety cylinders into the system and move the existing 6,500 cylinders out to at least 11,000 feet. We would go with three teams this time out and re-establish the setup routines from 2000, but with some more aggressive planning in terms of distance, given the speed of the April 23 dives and the fact that all long-range setup teams would be using RB80s. In 2000, we leveraged short-mid-range open-circuit teams to deliver scooters and cylinders to 4,800 feet; a single RB setup team to move gear to 8,000 feet; and a primary exploration team to take it from there. This time out, we would attempt to move as much gear as possible to the 11,000-foot depot. This would allow the exploration team to move quickly through the first 2 miles of cave before picking up numerous scooters and cylinders. La Nina was weakening, rain was in the forecast, and hurricane season was fast approaching. There would be limited opportunities to explore and hopefully establish a connection to the theoretical North-South Leon Sinks conduit heading toward Spring Creek and the Gulf of Mexico. The dives would be big and potentially record-breaking in terms of distance and depth. The record was a non-issue from my point of view, because I wanted the connection or proof of a physical connection in addition to the dye-trace confirmation. The long-term goal of the WKPP, in addition to research support and education, is to physically connect these cave systems and answer fifty-plus years of speculation. I prefer to let others worry about the records as we pursue the primary mission of the WKPP.