One of the novelties of the 2018 edition of the Sardinia Project was the inclusion of a new cave to document and study: Utopia.
Just the name (Utopia) says it all; its probably one of the nicest cave names I know, and it immediately brings imagines and imagination of a really grandiose and beautiful site. We were not disappointed !
Starting from the beginning, the entrance : as Mara (our project manager) explained it, all you need to look for is the crack on the cliff wall. So after a hot but very beautiful 40min ride on the boat, we found the crack. At 9m of depth, you find a narrow (well, large enough for two people) shaft that swirls down to around 30m where you find the main line to Utopia.
The cave is huge, making it look darker than the other caves, but once properly lit up by some of the video gear that some of the divers carried with them, it really shows its full beauty.
I found black mussels on the walls of the cave still some 50m inside the cave, really amazing – this was really neat.
On this cave, we needed to place observation cookies every 30m (15 cookies in all), sample sediment and retrieve core samples. The deeper depth, some sections going below 30m, meant that all teams needed to carry trimix gas to safely enjoy the experience – well worth the effort !
We were super optimistic, and planned to install cookies 9 to 15… What happened? we only installed number 9, which was already 270 meters inside the cave. Including deco tanks and stage drop, we were already 47 minutes in the cave where we installed the cookie and check gas to get to the next one, we wouldn’t have enough to measure the next 30 meters and install the next cookie, so we decided to head back; but we left the remaining cookies on the line for the next team to finish the job.
Some of the scooter teams enjoyed a 60min scooter dive into the cave. They reported that the cave becomes shallower, average 15m, after some time. They also found a T, with a “suspicious” arrow pointing into the side tunnel … could that tunnel lead to the Euphoria entrance that is reported in the cave survey ?
Can’t wait for the video of the project to be released !