Interview with the renowned aquatic explorer Casey McKinlay
By Dave Moran
Casey McKinlay is a renowned aquatic explorer with more than 20 years of active research and discovery experience. Casey is currently responsible for directing all operations for the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) which is the most active and successful cave diving exploratory project in the world.
Casey serves on the GUE Board of Directors and is a fellow of the Explorers Club. Casey's professional experience includes various positions within JC Penney-Eckerd Corporation, a Fortune 100 company from 1997-2004 and his current position as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Halcyon Manufacturing Inc. directing daily operations and strategic planning.
Casey received an MBA in 1997 at Florida State University and a BS in finance in 1991 at the University of Central Florida. www.gue.com
Editor Dave Moran caught up with Casey when he was recently in New Zealand helping with the exploration of the Blue Creek cave system.
Dave Moran (DM): Casey how did you get into diving?
Casey McKinlay (CM): I grew up in Florida (USA) which is a great place if you love being in the water. At the University of Florida I experienced scuba diving due to their academic diving programme.
Because the university was located in north central Florida, far away from the sea, the only place to do check-out dives and dive on a regular basis was in the Springs. These Springs are world renown amongst cave divers, unlimited visibility! At the bottom of most of these springs, there's usually a cave system.
About six months after my open water certification I did a cavern class then a few months later a basic cave class followed by a full cave class. That was around 1989. I soon got to know the small diving community that frequent the Springs. I started diving with Jarrod Jablonski. Over time we developed a reputation as being good cave divers.
In 1993 we were invited to support the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP). The reputations of the guys involved with this project was that they were on the cutting edge of exploration and exploring deep cave systems west of Gainesville including permitted access only, Wakulla Springs.
These guys were developing systems such as using scooters and trimix to allow them to push further and deeper into the cave systems. They were spending money and consulting experts such as former decompression expert Dr Bill Hamilton. It was very experimental.
We started as support divers for the WKPP's deep exploration projects, this began our 20 year relationship with the group.
(full interview in the hard copy of the magazine or digital on-line version)
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