October 22, 2013

Northern Cavefish Amblyopsis Spelaea and Crayfish Cambarus cryptodytes together Upper Twin
 Sunday morning we woke up early and got right down to the property where we would enter Upper Twin cave. We were able to obtain permission through the landowners of the private property to access the cave.  Upper twin cave feeds into spring mill state park so we made sure we were very careful not to leave the property we were granted access for. We had to wear wetsuits in this cave as the water was 54 degrees and it was a bit cold out. We entered the cave and crawled down a small breakdown pile until we got to the river system. Clear water!! Well 10 ft of viz is really nice to see and good viz for indiana standards. We went down stream and immediately noticed blind fish. They were the size of large minnows but they were everywhere. These transparent troglobite organisms  live in the cave throughout their lifespan and have adapted to total darkness. 
Another pic of a northern Blind Fish Amblyopsis Spelaea
The northern cavefish (Amblyopsis Spelaea) is found through out south indiana and Kentucky as a threatened species so special care must be taken to ensure these species are not effected in their natural habitats. We also encountered troglobite crayfish and a few troglophile crayfish and frogs.
Northern Cavefish Amblyopsis Spelaea
We continued down the river passage and we found sections where we had to start swimming to get to the next cut bank around the bend of the river cave.  It was quite fun as we were in wetsuits which took the bite off the coldwater.  I donned my dive mask and snorkel to see if I could get some close ups of the blind fish and I was able to get a few good shots of them along with a shot of a crayfish and a blind fish next to each other (shown above).  
Chris Parks in Upper Twin Cave
We continued on down the passage and encounterd a large room which I attempted to take pictures of but my camera started fogging up so I wasn't able to get the best shots of the passage.

Large passage in Upper Twin
We found a trail marker in the middle of the ceiling and I wasn't sure if this was the actual border of the property or not so we turned around to make sure we didn't violate any rules.  We headed back and took our time to enjoy the fact that we are swimming inside of a cave and it was an easy pace to enjoy.

Adam Haydock in the River Cave Upper Twin
We went into the upstream section and quickly found a breakdown pile to negociate.  We found a tight section to fit through which might have been the way to continue up the passage but we decided not to rip up our wetsuits and return to the entrance.  I want to thank Chris Parks for the hospitality and for not smelling like a wet turtle :) you are a good friend and I appreciate you chris.   I also want to thank Jesse, Danyele, Jerry, and Tymme for helping to create a nice and safe weekend.  We will see you guys soon!
Laura Olr coming out of Upper Twin

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