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What Threatens Caves
These batteries were left in the cave for awhile, if you think THEY look bad you should see the cave!
Click on the Picture for Larger Image

Just our (human) presence in caves can be a threat to the cave and the life that lives in it. When we walk through the cave we may accidently break a formation (speleothem); crush insects under foot without realizing it; drop food particles, skin cells, or hair; or compact the soil, depriviing microbes and tiny insects of needed oxygen. Thoughtless people may write their names on the walls or kill bats that live in the cave out of fear of these animals.

This is a picture of the damage caused by the batteries pictured above.
This picture shows just how much damage leaving a couple of batteries in a cave can cause!
Click on the Picture for Image Information

There are also much larger scale threats. In rural areas, many people see sinkholes and cave entrances as convenient dumping sites, throwing cars, refrigerators, garbage, or dead cows into the sinkhole. Toxic substances leaching from cars and appliances, and organic carbon from decaying animal flesh enter the cave system. One cave in Indiana was on the receiving end of a massive gasoline spill that killed most of the life in the cave. We have a very poor idea of how connected the surface of the Earth is with the subsurface environment. What we do aboveground can really impact caves and our water supplies that often flow through these caves.

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What Threatens Cave Microbes

Further Reading About Saving a Cave