Diving the Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich – Mexico

We caught up with videographer, Jonathon Di Cecco to find out more about his stunning film ‘Cave Diving – Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich – Mexico’

What equipment did you use for the video?

The camera I use is a Sony A7Sii with a 28mm lens, in a Nauticam housing. And I generally give my cave diving buddies some 5,000 lumen lights to help light up the cave.

What considerations do you have to think about when filming a cave dive?

When filming in a cave environment there is a lot to consider when compared to open water diving. I also dive a rebreather which adds complexity to dives as well. First you have to make sure all safety requirements are met before entering an overhead environment; plenty of redundancy both with equipment and gas, but most of all you need to be situationally aware of everything going on around you during the dive. Some of the dives had a run-time of several hours, diving in a complex and vast cave system spanning many kilometers with only one entrance/exit to the jungle above. We need to constantly be aware of the direction of exit, how much gas we need to get back if the proverbial hits the fan and how long my primary torch would last for, just to name a few things that need consideration.

The caves are also full of delicate formations and silt which, if disturbed, can create zero visibility. It can be so bad you can barely read your dive computer let alone see your buddy. While, obviously, this isn’t great for capturing the beauty of a cave, it can also increase the risk of a diving incident tremendously. So, not only do your diving skills need to be on point, but detailed planning, team diving skills, and safe diving practices are all necessary before filming can even be considered.

Before I film, I always try to familiarize myself with the cave system by diving it as often as I can without my camera. During these dives, I draw basic stick maps of the cave, think about which sections we want to travel, and about particular shots and angles I could film. It is these dives I really enjoy, entering a cave which is new and unknown to me and experiencing how the cave changes around every corner. They can change so quickly, going from narrow and low restrictions, then bam! Opening into a beautifully decorated room, with no formation the same.

What drew you to film in Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich, Mexico?

Nohoch is known for being extremely decorated and beautiful. It also has a tremendous amount to see with about 67 km’s (42 miles) of underwater cave passage. And only being a short drive out of Tulum, it was high on the list of dive sites for me when I first got to Mexico. Especially once I saw a detailed map of it hanging on my friend’s wall. I knew I had to dive it and then share the experiences through my videos and photos.