HUDSON, Fla. — Just as surprising to some Hudson homeowners as the 36 depressions that opened beneath the Beacon Woods community since August 13 was the news that they appeared to follow the path of a nine-mile underground cave system.

For others in the Pasco County community, however, the caves have long been a place for exploring and a draw for business.


The central feature of Commercial Diving Technologies Institute on US-19 is a 260 foot-plus deep rock bottom sinkhole that owner Ken Shelley said is perfect for training students in underwater construction.

"People get really scared when they say 'sinkhole' but it's two different animals, though, here," said Shelley.

The caves that branch out beneath the surface have also brought people in to take the plunge.

"We do have cave divers that come in here weekly, and they're mapping the cave system from our sinkhole," Shelley said.

Divers have been exploring the cave system beneath this area of the county for decades. One of them, Paul Heinerth, first ventured into those beneath Beacon Woods in the late 1970s.

"The attraction is the size of the cave, the multiple tunnels in the cave," said Heinerth.

Heinerth said as soon as he heard about the depressions that opened in Beacon Woods, he thought of the caves. He said he's given several talks on the system in the community.

Each time, the response from residents has been surprise about what's right under their feet.

"The cave would have ceilings that were, like 30 feet deep and the floor would be 120 feet deep. Some of those sections, I suspect, is probably where there was a collapse," Heinerth said.

If those depressions hadn't formed, there's a chance some homeowners might never have known what was beneath their property.