Blue Hole USA

Delve into the storied and tragic history of diving at Santa Rosa Blue Hole, where both triumphs and challenges mark the underwater landscape. This iconic site has witnessed over 3,000 students undertaking open water check-out dives annually.

  • Region: New Mexico
  • Coordinates: 34.940447, -104.673239
  • Depth: 225 ft
  • Remarks: Cave Closed
  • Type: Cave

Diver Tragedy and Cave Sealing

In 1976, the allure of the Blue Hole turned tragic when two University of Oklahoma State students lost their lives. Straying from their open water class, they entered the labyrinthine passages of the Blue Hole cave system. Despite swift recovery of one diver’s body, the New Mexico State Police faced a challenging six-week operation to retrieve the second missing diver.

To prevent future tragedies, the City of Santa Rosa and the New Mexico State Police took decisive action. They sealed the cave entrance with a substantial steel grate, topping it with at least 2 dump trucks of rocks, ensuring the vast underwater corridors remained untouched.

Underwater Exploration and Challenges

Divers exploring the Blue Hole’s depths faced unique challenges. The largest room discovered was approximately 17 feet tall, but it met a fate of collapse during recovery operations. In 1976, divers reported reaching a maximum depth of 225 feet, later adjusted to around 190 feet due to altitude considerations.

Describing the sheer size of the cave below Santa Rosa Blue Hole, recovery diver Jim Syling stated, “I hung off a cliff; I had a 200,000 candlepower flashlight and couldn’t see the bottom or the other side. The water was clear, but it must be a big cavern, like Carlsbad Caverns.”

ADM Exploration Foundation Report

For a comprehensive understanding of the Blue Hole’s exploration, the ADM Exploration Foundation Exploration Report provides detailed insights into the underwater world beneath Santa Rosa’s surface. Explore the triumphs, challenges, and mysteries that shape the history of Santa Rosa Blue Hole.


How deep is Santa Rosa Blue Hole’s cave?

The maximum reported depth of Santa Rosa Blue Hole’s cave was approximately 225 feet, adjusted for altitude considerations.

Are there any underwater rooms in Santa Rosa Blue Hole’s cave?

Yes, divers discovered underwater rooms within Santa Rosa Blue Hole’s cave. The largest room found measured approximately 17 feet tall, although it later collapsed during recovery operations.

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