Team TS Debby

Team TS Debby


Oh, it’s coming!

For part of the story that didn’t make press deadline for AJ Gonzales’s Quest article on Black Hole Swallet… On 23 June 2012, TS Debby, sitting in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, was forecast to head due West. Unbeknownst to us, overnight it turned-heel and beelined straight for Tallahassee. While en route to Tallahassee, very early on morning of 24 June 2012, as we are wondering why it is raining so hard, we discover this trajectory change. Oh well, no going home now! After an overland investigation up the currently-dry stream bed that normally feeds the swallet, we decided that we better hurry up and make a run to finish some survey and clean up safety bottles before the system goes under.  A swallet is a sink hole where water typically feeds from the surface (read: low visibility, often tannin-stained, complete with dirt, sticks, trash water) into an underground cave system, in this case the Wakulla-Leon system, as proved by dye-trace. This swallet becomes diveable when that surface stream dries up, a rare occurrence. Our window of opportunity was closing, and remained closed for 1+ years after this faithful day of 24 June.

TS Debby track from NOAA

Courtesy NOAA


So the shenanigans that ensued from being drenched to the bone while moving a lot of gear with a very small group and very slippery, muddy slopes cemented Team TS Debby: AJ, Brian, Blake and Mer. Both exploration/survey and support teams accomplished the dives we needed to do that day, then we had a couple of weeks to dry out. Turns out this non-forecasted FL tropical event sat over the FL gulf coast area for 3 days and dumped, in some places, over 28 inches of rain, thus flooding out all cave diving for a few weeks. We burn-tested a lot of batteries and fixed a lot of gear in those few weeks.


AJ takes a knee.


Blake, not pictured, is under an umbrella while Mer moves the gear.


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