WEEKI WACHEE — A new rule requires scuba divers to register before diving in the Eagle’s Nest, a well known and dangerous cave-diving site in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At least a dozen scuba divers have died in or near the Eagle’s Nest since 1981.
The rule applies throughout the management area and went into effect Thursday. It says scuba divers must be at least 18 years old and go through a free, online registration process before each dive.
Registration information will be posted at the entry to the Chassahowitzka area, as well as at the Eagle’s Nest, according to the FWC. The registration includes area-specific safety information and requires divers to release the state from liability. Divers must be able to show Fish and Wildlife officers proof of their registration — in print or online — upon request.
The new rules do not apply to free divers or swimmers, a spokesperson said.
On July 19, a 20-year-old man died while free diving with friends at the entrance to the Eagle’s Nest. A Dover man died in the cave system in January, and a Trinity diver died a year earlier.
Two divers from Fort Lauderdale died in the caves in 2016, and on Christmas Day 2013, a father and son died there.