Diepolder II and Diepolder III are located on the Sand Hill Ranch Scout Reservation, Hernando Co. Florida. The property was donated to the Boy Scouts after the Diepolder family passed away in the mid to late 70's. The Florida Speleological Researcher's (FSR) was developed after the boy scouts took control, and this program is the oldest working guide program in existence today. Guidelines were developed by FSR to insure that all diving operations are carried out with the utmost regard for the safety of the members, respect for the caves and property, and sincere courtesy to the landowner.
The submerged caves of the Diepolder systems are among the most unique discovered within the Western Hemisphere.
The Directors of FSR have been chosen from the most active, experienced deep cave divers within the state of Florida. It is the intent of the BOD of FSR to provide and maintain access for all qualified members through this program.
In order to dive the Diepolder caves, divers must meet the following minimum qualifications:
- Must be "Full Cave" or equivalent trained through either the National Association for Cave Diving (NACD), the National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section (NSS-CDS), or Global Underwater Explorers (GUE).
- Must demonstrate proof of a minimum of 100 cave dives after the completion of "Full Cave" or equivalent training
- Must possess appropriate trimix certification or be under the direct supervision of a trimix instructor
- Must be a member in good standing of Florida Speleological Researchers, Inc.
- Ratio for diving Sink #3: Any single guide may accompany no more than three guests within Sink #3 at any time. To secure this ratio, at least one guest must have a minimum of five visits into Sink #3 prior.
- To dive Sink #2 - You must have a minimum of 3 dives in Sink #3 before proceeding to Sink #2.
- Ratio for diving #2: Any single guide may accompany no more than two guests within sink #2 at any time. To secure this ratio, at least one guest must have a minimum of at least five dives within Sink #2 prior.
- Rebreathers are only permitted in Sink #3
History: Will Walters discovered the Diepolder system by air. D III is a max depth of apprx. 300' D II is a max depth of apprx. 365'. In 1979 Dale Sweet of Winter Haven did a dive to a max depth of 360' in the II sink. This was the first time a diver had explored a Florida cave while breathing mixed gas. Dale had placed a small American flag with a secret message on the back for all those who would follow. Sheck Exley made the same dive using compressed air a year later. Then in 1987 Bill Gavin and Lamar English did the same dive using mixed gas (which was just now starting to come into mainstream). Through the 80's little was known about the cave system beyond the pit and there were no maps. March 23rd of 1991, a group of divers organized a Project to gather more information about the system beyond the Flagroom. Some of the early guides included names such as Sheck Exley, Dale Sweet, Bill Main, Steve Stratsma, Bill Gavin, Vaugn Maxwell, just to name a few.