2023 NSS Luminary Series – Dave Bunnell

Play Video

NSS 14760/RL/FE/OS

Dave got his start caving as an undergrad at the Univ. of Delaware, where the outing club offered trips to PA caves. Soon he was going to WV, got into vertical caving, and visited both Hellhole and Schoolhouse. He attended UVA in Charlottesville, getting his PhD in psychophysiology. There he met Ron Simmons and caved a lot WV, especially in the Friars Hole System.

At the 1978 Texas convention, he met Carol Vesely, with whom he made the first of many trips to Mexico, to Sotano de las Golondrinas, and had his first photos published in a book by Michel Siffre. In 1980, he began a postdoc at UC Santa Barbara and began more international caving trips. He and Carol were on an expedition to Papua New Guinea, and he did a number of underground camps in Sistema Purificacion. In 1986 he joined an expedition to the Chiquibul Cave system in Belize, all the while amassing a large portfolio of photographs.

Carol and Dave initiated the California Sea Cave Survey, making dozens of trips to the Channel Islands, and in 1988 published his first book, Sea Caves of Santa Cruz Island.

His second great project was Lechuguilla. He attended an early expedition in 1986, followed by over a dozen weeklong expeditions, including some great discoveries and the first cave dives.

In 1991, Dave attended a vulcanospeleology conference in Hawai’i and discovered a few caves. This was the first of many trips there, working on caves on Mauna Loa and Kona with Doug Medville, Bob Richards and others. In 1996-96, he joined expeditions to Gunung Buda in Borneo, and got his first taste of book publishing with digital photo preparation.

In 1995, with his companion Djuna, they produced the first Virtual Cave website, a guide to cave formations. It has been updated and expanded in the years since into a world-renowned resource for understanding the many forms of cave depositions. It presently has a new home on the NSS website.

In 1996, Dave was offered editorship of the NSS News, and brought new stability to that publication, along with increasing color, a revised format, and timely publication. He managed the News for 26 years before retiring at the end of 2022. Along with his cave photography, it opened many doors for cave visits around the world. In 1998, Dave met his future wife Elizabeth and moved to Angels Camp, in California’s Mother Lode cave country. Since then, Dave has continued to cave all around the world, notably in Asia, Europe, Mexico, and Central America.

2023 NSS Luminary Series – Dave Bunnell

June 6, 2023

Video Tags

Share this video