Helen Murdoch –
A group of Australian divers has broken yet another cave diving record in the depths of the Pearse River resurgence and revealed the underwater cave system is linked to Mt Arthur’s Nettlebed Cave system.
The group returned from the remote Motueka Valley river head this week after spending a fortnight exploring the intricate underwater cave system.
Diver and explorer Craig Challen pushed the human limit, reaching 221m, breaking the 194m record he set in the river cave last January and setting an Australasian record.
The Western Australian vet said delving to a dark depth felt like “a long way from home”.
The 17-hour dive saw him stop four times at underwater “habitats” which were filled with trapped air.
They provided a base for divers to rest and decompress before continuing their return to the surface.
Mr Challen said diving into the uncharted cave at that depth was like “dipping your toe in the unknown”.
It was the third time the six-member team had returned to explore the Pearse. Mr Challen said the expedition was as much about exploration as endurance.