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Photographer's Note

Just kidding there is no Monster, but there are some problems with Santa Cruz's Sea Caves.

Santa Cruz has five small, marble caves. These caves are home to two endangered arachnids and the threatened Townsend Big-Eared Bat. All of these caves have experienced massive vandalism and abuse, but Empire Cave in particular has experienced the brunt of it. On the University property and within a stone’s throw of the road, Empire Cave desperately needs our help!

A haven for partiers and vandals, this cave has taken an incredible amount of abuse. It's walls blackened by a tire fire in the main room, it's air poisoned by decaying bales of hay (since painstakingly removed), and its formations smashed and stolen by the hordes of vandals who come here to party, this cave would almost be considered a lost cause. Its proximity to the road makes gating almost impossible, and cleanup efforts are endless.

Why not write this cave off? Because this is the home of the endangered Dolloff Spider, found only in Santa Cruz caves, and the unique Empire Cave Pseudo scorpion, found only in Empire Cave! Our efforts here are not just to save a cave, but to save two species from extinction!

Halloween is particularly hard on Empire Cave. The parties are non-stop, drugs and alcohol are a constant presence, and more destruction occurs on this one night then most caves suffer in an entire year. One year, bales of hay were dragged into the cave to make their activities more comfortable. This hay was left in the cave, and soon after began to decay. The resulting CO2 from the decaying hay nearly killed all the native cave life and made cleanup trips hell! There was so much CO2 that even the flame of a cigarette lighter was unable to be sustained. We still haven't seen any of the unique Empire Cave pseudo scorpions return, but thankfully at least one Dolloff Spider has been spotted.

The November 1st 1997 cleanup was mostly hands-and-knees work, picking broken glass out of the muddy floor and pulling cans out of every little crack or hole in the wall.

Empire Cave is on University of Santa Cruz property, and is thus owned by the University. Gating was at one point attempted, but since the cave is so close to the road, each gate has been destroyed as fast as they can be installed. The University finally gave up their gating attempts and actually installed a ladder to ease entry! Not only has the University opened themselves up to epic lawsuits, but they have also made it an order of magnitude easier for vandals to destroy the cave and cause the extinction of two arachnid species.

More information on Santa Cruz's Sea Caves can be found at the following web address: http://www.caves.org/grotto/sfbc/projects/empire.html

Have a wonderful weekend everyone..............Buddy

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Buddy Denmark (PecoBud) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 408 W: 0 N: 912] (3824)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2012-04-20
  • Categories: Nature
  • Exposure: f/3.2, 1/800 seconds
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2012-04-27 7:37
Viewed: 1320
Points: 31
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Additional Photos by Buddy Denmark (PecoBud) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 408 W: 0 N: 912] (3824)
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