The Madagascar Karst Project: Diving Madagascar’s Underwater Caves in Search of Flooded Graves

by Owen James Burke

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(Screenshot from The Madagascar Karst Project video–see below)

A karst cave, or karst topography, is the result of bedrock being eroded by water which can form rivers that are miles long and never see the light of day. There are many such places around the world, but Ankarana Special Reserve in northern Madagascar is a pristinely preserved graveyard for long-gone species, namely a large, prehistoric lemur. Consisting of a team of speleologists and paleontologists, the Madagascar Project set out last fall to further penetrate the cave system and its mysteries.

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Above: Extinct lemur skulls, which were much larger than their modern-day descendants. (Screenshot from The Madagascar Karst Project video)

There’s something creepy going into a cave; compound that with the fact that its underwater and full of bones, this could be s of the eeriest places on earth a scientist could find oneself.

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Much of the expedition involves “laying line” in order to keep records of dives and map the caves. (Screenshot from The Madagascar Karst Project video)

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Not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic. (Screenshot from The Madagascar Karst Project video)

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Descending. Mangily Sinkhole, the deepest of the region’s caves runs 140 meters down (about 460 feet), and one river runs almost 5 miles long–the longest of all of Africa’s underwater rivers. (Screenshot from The Madagascar Karst Project video)

It looks like these guys will be headed back soon, keep updated on DRSS’s Vimeo channel. Film courtesy of the Dominican Republic Speleological Society. — OJB

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