Land of the Sea Caves

Sport Diver - - Training -

Do West Ti­mor’s ocean caves lead to in­land ones? Liz Rogers de­cided to find out.

West Ti­mor has fresh wa­ter gush­ing into the ocean from cave en­trances along the shore­line. We had high hopes that they would con­nect through to Goa Oe­hani, Umbu’s Shaft and two other en­trances in the same area, al­low­ing us to swim 2 miles from the coast com­pletely un­der­ground.

At high tide, these ocean caves suck salt wa­ter in. Our dives were care­fully timed with slack wa­ter to avoid be­ing un­able to en­ter against the flow — or worse, un­able to exit. Each en­trance gave up about 300 feet of div­able tun­nel be­fore splin­ter­ing into tun­nels too small for a diver to pass through.

Although we thought the fu­ri­ous flow would have carved out huge tun­nels, it seemed the soft lime­stone was work­ing against us again. Pushed by the tide, the wa­ter started in medium-size en­trances, split­ting into smaller tun­nels and then per­me­at­ing through the bedrock. Div­ing the ocean caves added to our knowl­edge of the is­land’s ge­ol­ogy, but they weren’t go­ing to eas­ily give up the miles-long con­nec­tion we were hop­ing for.

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