Manantial El Toro 1&2
La Altagracia, Dominican Republic
To the left of the cueva de Berna cave entrance and after walking for 20 mins or so, you get to the edge of the partially collapsed El Toro entrance.
From above it is barely visible and is overgrown with huge trees and plants which are full of industrial strength DR wasp nest, they are super aggressive and will attack at the slightest vibration so be extra careful when moving through the brush. The sink is actually quite big about the size of a baseball field and has a large hole in the middle of the ceiling with tree roots hanging down, the entire ceiling looks like it’s about to collapse at any moment, I am sure its been like that for a long time, but still. After climbing down through a maze of boulders you get to the edge of the water which is at the far end, it is fairly large and offers only one easy entry point.
As soon as you get underwater the cave is really big, the entrance tunnel goes down vertical and levels off at the ceiling at 8 meters were the mainline starts. The main tunnel is very wide and has house sized boulders just hanging there waiting for you to swim under. The rock is very soft and there are wild halloclines everywhere. Most of the time there is a yellow haze at the bottom below 10 meters in the mixing zone. After swimming for about 20 min you get to the beginning of the bacteria saltwater tunnel, the cave gets deeper and goes to 20 meters for the next 15 mins as you swim through a really freaky area of bacterial growth, it looks like orange jelo stalagtites from hell. the viz is usually not very good here and it will silt out if you are not extra careful. Once on the other side when you come out of the saltwater layer the hallocline is very pronounced and looking down from the fresh water layer it is opaque green. The cave then gets really wide again before the line takes a sharp left turn through a small fissure and into a low saltwater bedding plane, after which the cave changes radically and opens up again into a huge white tunnel. On the ceiling here there are a few large gas pockets that may or may not be breathable, at this point you are 3200 feet penetration. Every five minutes the geology changes dramatically, there are wild clay banks, potholed ceilings, fossilized sea urchins coming out of walls, and many wild dissolved rock shapes.
Manantial del Toro 2:
This is the downstream side of the huge Toro 1 sink, instead of going to the right you go to the left and down a smaller boulder pile to the water's edge. The entrance pool is actually quite big and the ceiling looks just as precarious with huge boulders waiting to fall.
The entrance is just as big as Toro1 and the cavern is gigantic, there is a small gas pocket at the far end with air that may or may not be breathable. On the left there is a jump that leads through a series of low bedding planes and restrictions and goes to Hoyo Azul about 1500 feet away. This area is coated with super fine silt and the ceiling will percolate fiercely so zero viz exits are usually the norm.
Due to the numerous restriction in the bedding planes
this is a side mount dive.
Max depth is 20 meters, curent length of system 11270 feet.