The Cave Diving Website

How does cave diving differ from other
types of overhead environment diving?


Cave diving differs from other forms of overhead environment diving in several significant respects. Among them:

  • Caves are especially fragile environments. While wreck and ice divers must also take care not to cause damage to their unique environments, the degree of care they must exercise is vastly eclipsed by that cave divers must exercise to protect irreplaceable cave formations from harm.
  • Cave diving generally involves penetration distances vastly greater than those experienced by wreck and ice divers. This requires the utmost in self sufficiency and self reliance.
  • Wreck diving generally takes place in significantly colder water than cave diving. Ice diving takes place in substantially colder water. This can have a profound impact on equipment configuration and technique.

The bottom line is that, despite the fact cave, wreck and ice diving all take place in overhead environments, they are separate and distinct activities. Each involves a different set of risks, and each requires its own unique equipment, techniques and procedures.

As a consequence, there can be no such thing as generic "overhead environment diver" training or equipment. No amount of training or experience in ice or wreck diving can adequately prepare divers to or cave dive (and vice versa). Similarly, equipment that represents an acceptable configuration for ice or wreck diving is not automatically an acceptable configuration for cave diving.

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