WEEKI WACHEE, Fla. -- The body of a missing diver at Eagle's Nest Cave was recovered Thursday morning.
- Body of diver, 20, found Thursday morning
- Diver did not resurface at Eagle's Nest Cave Wednesday evening
- Vast system of caves a popular spot for cave divers
The diver, identified as 20-year-old Said Marjane, disappeared Wednesday evening. According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, a 911 call came in just before 7 p.m. when Marjane failed to surface at the Eagle's Nest underwater cave.
A search took place Wednesday evening until it was suspended for darkness.
Marjane was part of a group of six divers at the Eagle's Nest cave diving spot on the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area property near Weeki Wachee.
The group had been doing free dives for several hours at Eagle's Nest.
The vast system of caves, some as deep as 200 to 300 feet, is a popular spot for cave and free divers.
During a free dive, divers commonly wear wetsuits, masks, fins and weight belts, but do not utilize air tanks. Officials said during the last dive, Marjane told friends he was going to attempt a max breath dive to see how long he could stay submerged.
Marjane descended 80 feet with another diver, who then returned to the surface. When Marjane did not resurface, other divers began a search for him. When they could not locate him, they called 911.
Authorities said a team of civilian divers were able to locate and retrieve Marjane's body.
Officials said Marjane's body was recovered in 150 feet of water. With Marjane's death, 13 divers have died in the Eagle's Nest cave system since 1981.
Deputies say Marjane was from Morocco and recently moved to the Orlando area to live with his aunt and go to college.
An investigation is ongoing.
People from all over the world travel to dive at Eagle’s Nest. Divers who explore the area often say you can feel comfortable diving there if you know what you are doing.
"It's a beautiful cave system," Bill Oestreich said.
Oestreich has been diving for 30 years, and has undertaken several trips to Eagle’s Nest.
"The nest is a huge cave. Huge, huge rooms -- you can drive a semi down some of these passageways," he explained.
Oestreich said regular scuba diving in the area can be dangerous.
"At the nest you're diving in 300 feet of depth, so that's 10 atmosphere of pressure, so your gas is going 10 times as fast as it does on the surface. And you add that to the plucker factor, your air is going to go pretty quick,” he said.
He said free diving, which doesn't use any scuba gear, is dangerous too, whether it's done here or in other deep water areas.
"As you come back up, the shallow water blackout, where they have no warning, they just pass out. I've seen some footage on free divers, spear fisherman stuff that have come up, and blacked out right in front of their friend, and they drag him back to the boat and he's not even aware of what happened,” Oestreich said.
We did reach out to Florida Fish and Wildlife, which oversees the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area where Eagle’s Nest is located, to see if there are any changes to being made in that area. A spokeswoman told us right now they do not have enough information to comment.