Boesmansgat, also known in English as "Bushman's Hole", is believed to be the sixth-deepest submerged freshwater cave (or sinkhole) in the world, having been dived to 282.6 metres (927 ft). It is located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.
Boesmansgat was believed to have first been explored by amateur diver Mike Rathbourne, in 1977. The greatest depth attained was by Nuno Gomes, in 1996. Its altitude of over 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) makes this a particularly challenging dive, requiring a decompression schedule equivalent for a dive to 339 metres (1,112 ft) feet at sea level. (Gomes' dive was a close call, as he got stuck in the mud on the bottom of Bushman's Hole for two minutes before escaping.)
- In 1993, Eben Leyden died after blacking out at 60 metres (200 ft).)
- In 1994, while helping a team prepare for a dive, Deon Dreyer died on ascent at a depth of 50 metres (160 ft). Dreyer's body remained in the cave until being discovered ten years later at a depth of 270 metres (890 ft) by renowned cave diver David Shaw.
- On 8 January 2005, David Shaw died while attempting to recover Dreyer's body. (Shaw's close friend and support diver, Don Shirley, nearly died as well and was left with permanent damage that has impaired his balance.) On 12 January 2005, Dreyer and Shaw's bodies were ultimately recovered near the surface, while part of the staff was recovering part of the technical equipment.
In Mo Hayder's novel Ritual (2008), the death of the parents of one of the protagonists while diving in Bushman's Hole is an important plot device.
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