By Mirella Santillo
When he first moved to Andros in 1988-his first time in The Bahamas- former Navy Seal Diver, Brian Kakuk explored the Blue Holes of that island. Subsequently on Abaco to teach fishermen safe diving practices, his visit corresponded to the discovery of fossils at Saw Mill Sink. His help to further explore that Blue Hole led the discovery of an incredible amount of fossils and scientific information that raised his interest in exploring more Blue Holes.
Ralph’s Cave and especially Dan’s Cave became his focal points leading the discovery of an amazing system of underground caves and passages in the Southern Pine Forest of the island.
It was the start of a business, Bahamas Underground. Brian is also a Director of Bahamas Caves Research Foundation together with Nancy Albury. Mrs. Albury, herself a cave diver, is the Director of the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation for Abaco to which Mr. Kakuk is also a consultant.
Since the discoveries at Saw Mill Sink, Kakuk has travelled to more places in the country and started an underground mapping of Abaco. The mapping was conducted a few years ago with Nancy Albury using a GPS above ground while Brian followed the underground passages.
As he took part in more and more dives, Brian Kakuk found large caves with stalactites and stalagmites, calcite columns and other crystal ornamental structures as well as more passages located at different depth levels.
Dan’s Cave has become the focus of Mr. Kakuk’s underground diving explorations, “his office,” he calls it.
So far, he has explored twelve miles of passages, which he said will continue to be lengthened. Dan’s Cave has two entrances, one from Ralph’s cave which is part of the same cave system.
The diver mentioned excitedly that he now has the equipment to go further. The main passage is found at approximately 2000ft from the entrance. He explained that the passages are found on three levels, one at 75ft deep, one at 110 ft and one at 150ft. Miles of passages are inter-connected by collapses and pits, he explained.
The discovery of these passages and caves offers a wealth of information for researchers and scientists. Research on Magical Blue Hole (off Ernest Dean Highway) proved that caves have been dry four times already and that the limestone we sit on is 1.2 million years old.
“The oldest formation dated so far was in Dan’s Cave and goes back to three hundred and fifty thousand years ago.” he said.
The last sea level was estimated to have been 410ft lower than it is now, until approximately 10,0000 years ago, Grand Bahama and Abaco were one island.
Needless to say, these caves have to be protected and Mr. Kakuk wrote a proposal to the Government concerning Ralph’s and Dan’s Caves to set aside 33,000 thousand acres of Pine forest and seabed.
But a new level of protection was needed for these caves, so the government decided to dedicate the area to become part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, now known as The Bahamas Blue Hole Conservation Forest, comprising 32,774 acres of land.
People from all over the world have visited Abaco to dive with Brian Kakuk. He only takes two divers at once to limit the disturbance of the structures.
As the news of the discoveries became public, National Geographic Magazine sent reporters and photographers several times to document the discoveries. Altogether, twenty-four documentaries have been made on the caves.
In August he will explore the 660 foot deep, Long Island Dean’s Blue Hole. His support equipment van has already been shipped to Long Island awaiting his arrival.
Becoming more and more daring, he has already been granted permission to organize his next project: diving in the Continental Divide in 2020.