Why we cave dive | Ressel France

'Why?' is probably the most common question that any cave diver is asked. How do you explain to your family and friends what you are doing down there? It's cold, dark, deep and apparently a hostile environment. There is almost no animal life, just walls of stone and water surrounding you. But for those who practice cave diving it is a way of life, the passion to discover new hidden worlds overcoming all else.

European Cave Country

In the southwest of France, the cities of Cahors, Gourdon, Figeac and Gramat ‘delimit’  the department Lot. This land of lush green forests and beautiful medieval heritage consisting of castles, medieval towns, water mills and ancient buildings is considered to be the Mecca of European cave diving. The Lot department is crossed by the rivers Celé, Lot and Dordogne and paradoxically being so far from the sea, is one of the top dive spots in Europe. The three rivershave over the centuries eroded the limestone, resulting in a network of caves, springs and siphons that run for kilometers underground. The Lot was also the venue of an international documentation project with people from seven different nationalities. The motivation for participating is explained here through the eyes of Marcus, a Norwegian cave diver and passionate explorer.

Why the caves?

Why do people climb the Everest or why do we do we fly into space? It's in the human DNA. Since the beginning of time man has been an explorer. But especially in our case, passion and adventure mixed with darkness and depth is enjoyed in a team of great friends from all over the world. There are few activities that can gather a team of people like the one behind this project: Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Italians, Swiss, Norwegians and Swedes, all together wanting to show the non-divers how fascinating cave diving is and why we do it.

Our goal

Cave diving can be more than an enjoyable leisure time activity. We dive caves to understand and protect the underwater realm, to do research about biology, archeology, water behaviour and its effects on local eco systems.  

Photo: Jan Henry S. Fosse

Photo: Jan Henry S. Fosse


We survey and map huge underwater systems. We log and report data like temperature changes, water flow and quality, types of sediments and the presence of flora and fauna. Bring this data up to the surface and sharing it with the scientific community is a baseline for a better understanding of our planet and its critical aquatic resources.

Illustration: Marcus Langberg Smestand and MIchael Spahn

Risks under control

What is the price in terms of risk? We agree that the safety aspect is not something to be underestimated. Cave diving can be a challenging and dangerous activity, however it need not be. Training, planning and teamwork is the foundation of cave diving, regardless it we are working on collecting data or if we simply have a fun dive. Advanced diving experience and training as a team allow us to safely reach depths and locations most divers never will. Cave diving is not for everyone, so with projects like this we share our enthusiasm with those who like to enjoy the pictures and video on dry land.

The whole world is soon explored and we have started exploring space, looking for planets that can sustain life of some sort. Still, by the time the first human will set foot on Mars, there will still be places underwater waiting to be discovered, places where no man has gone before.

By the time man has put one foot on Mars, there will still be places underwater waiting to be discovered

Cave training

Formal cave training can be obtained through several agencies including the Global Underwater Explorers www.gue.com


    The longest cave dive travers (frome one opening to another) was carried out by Jarrod Jablonski and Casey Mckinley travelling more than 11 km after spending more than 20 hours under water in Wakulla springs, Florida



    Maps are created through a tedious process of measuring the depth, distance(s) and angles relative to a guideline placed in the cave.