07/16/2012 11:16 am ET

Plumbing The Depths Of The Largest Underwater Gypsum Cave On Earth

“The reward is the possibility of seeing something beautiful, something that nobody has seen before you.”

Even with lights, it is dark, and the sense of claustrophobia is overwhelming. Passages wind off in different directions to confuse the careless or unprepared. And should you find yourself in danger in these tunnels in the Earth’s crust, there can be no quick escape; no way to scream, even. Why? Because Russia’s Orda Cave is not only deep underground, it is also underwater. As cave diver, Bogdana Vashchenko warns, “There are hundreds of ways to die in a cave, and many divers never come back.”

Read more on EnvironmentalGraffiti