Flooded Czech Cave the Deepest So Far

     (CN) – A team of explorers believe that a cave in eastern Czech Republic is the world’s deepest flooded fissure, going at least 1,325 feet deep.
     Polish explorer Krysztof Starnawski told The Associated Press on Friday that his team made the discovery near the Czech town of Hranice.
     Starnawski, 48, determined Tuesday that the Hranice Abyss, which divers including himself have explored for decades, is at least 1,325 feet deep. They made the discovering using a remotely operated underwater robot.
     The robot stopped at 1,325 feet when it ran out of cord, preventing it from reaching the bottom.
     In 2015, Starnawski passed through the slot and went down about 870 feet without hitting the bottom. The dive forced him to spend more than six hours in a decompression chamber, after which he decided he needed a robot to explore farther down.
     Speaking from his home in Krakow, Starnawski said Tuesday’s discovery makes Hranice Abyss the planet’s deepest known underwater cavity, beating the previous record-holder – a flooded sinkhole in Italy named Pozzo del Merro – by 39 feet.
     Starnawski said the discovery made him feel like a “Columbus of the 21st century,” according to the AP.
     The Czech Speleological Society said the cave is likely even deeper since the robot “was as deep as its rope could go, but the bottom was still nowhere in sight.”
     Diving in the Hranice Abyss is challenging due to its muddy areas and water temperatures of 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The water’s mineral composition also damages equipment and injures exposed skin, Starnawski said.
     “But that is the only price to be paid for this discovery, and it is worth paying,” he said.
     Starnawski created a map of the cave that ends with question marks in an unexplored area where he believes the underwater cavity goes deeper.
     On Saturday, he plans to dive 656 feet to recover the robot, which was made specifically for the expedition.

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