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Wonder

Crystal Cave in Bermuda

Crystal Cave, Bermuda Islands
Crystal Cave / Andrew Malone, / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

The best known of the many caves in the small Bermuda islands is the gorgeous Crystal Cave – a major tourist attraction for more than a century.

4.3 out of 10 stars 43.3%

GPS coordinates
32.3495 N 64.7135 W
Location, address
North America, Bermuda, Hamilton Parish
Length
˜ 500 m (some 350 m under the water)
Maximum depth
62 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Cricket ball leads to great discovery

Crystal cave in Bermuda was discovered by two twelve – thirteen years old boys – Carl Gibbons and Edgar Hollis in 1905. They were playing cricket, and then a ball disappeared some feet from one of the boys.

Boys badly wanted to get back their valuable ball, and one of them squeezed into the hole. It was surprisingly deep and turned out to be a large cave.

Owners of this property since 1884 were the Wilkinson family. As soon as they learned about the discovery, they decided to explore the cave. The 14 years old Bernard Wilkinson was lowered in the hole in a strong rope. The boy descended 43 m, lighting the vast cave room with a bicycle lamp. With awe, he looked at the incredibly beautiful cave with countless crystals.

Diving betweeen stalagmites (so called twin peaks) in Crystal Cave, Bermuda. These stalagmites formed, when the cave was above the water level
Diving betweeen stalagmites (so called "twin peaks") in Crystal Cave. These stalagmites formed, when the cave was above the water level / / public domain

Tourist trap

Wilkinsons decided to turn this wonder of nature into a tourist attraction. They built a pontoon bridge across the crystal clear waters of the subterranean pool. Cave was opened to the public on January 8, 1908, and one of the first visitors was Mark Twain.

Later the cave got a new, cozier entrance, lighting below the water, and other extras. Now it is visited by more than 80 000 tourists every year.

Beauty from the past

Crystal Cave, just like other caves in Bermuda, formed, when the sea level was considerably lower than now. When the Ice age ended and glaciers melted, sea level rose and inundated the beautiful cave formations.

Nowadays tourists see just a little part of Crystal Cave, which is above the water – and are very impressed by the countless stalactites, stalagmites, chandelier clusters, and soda straws.

The part which continues below the water is even more impressive. The water here is incredibly clear and, although it is up to 20 m deep, it looks like it is just knee-deep.

Scientific value

In Bermuda is known more than 150 caves. These wonderful caves have been very valuable to science – here have been found more than 75 species of cave organisms which are not found anywhere else in the world. These small creatures mostly live in the water. Many caves in Bermuda are anchialine, e.g. there is ongoing water exchange with the Atlantic ocean.

Crystal Cave is one of such valuable anchialine caves – here live such endemic crustaceans as copepod Mictocaris halope and ostracod Spelaeoecia bermudensis, as well as others.

Caves in Bermuda contain also some of the most complete sediment sequences of the last Ice Age period.

One interesting find in Crystal Cave was done soon after the discovery: in 1908 embedded in a stalactite were discovered feathers and bones of Bermuda Petrel (Pterodroma cahow). It was believed that this bird is extinct for some centuries – but in 1951 there were found 18 nesting pairs of this unique bird.

It is interesting to note also, that the water in this cave and elsewhere in Bermuda contains much fluoride. Long-term consumption of this water causes a disease called fluorosis. Nowadays the potable water is treated in Bermuda to avoid such problems.

References

  1. The Crystal Caves of Bermuda, history by The Crystal & Fantasy Caves. Accessed on May 15, 2012.

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