In some parts of Africa a bat flittering by at the onset of twilight suggests some coming evil though in Ireland it is indicative of good fortune. So what you might ask is the symbolism of a dead bat floating in an underground pool? I found this unfortunate critter decaying in a ball of fungus, one spiny limb protruding from the corpse. I suppose he had died at some time in the winter and had been washed out through the sump that we hope to negiotiate soon.
Greg Warchol, a well respected local caver (and regular companion to my travels) had e-mailed me this morning to remind me of this cave’s importance as a bat hibernaculum – they reside here in the winter – not just any hole will do, they require very specific conditions for each stage of their life.
The bat is becoming an increasingly endangered inhabitant of the province, it is essential to not disturb their winter slumbers. Come spring when the insects are again humming in their opressive swarms the bats emerge to make our lives more tolerable. “Are the insects out yet? Greg asked.
To wake a bat during hibernation could well mean its demise. The bat has a finite store of energy and in causing it to utilize the fat in a premature awakening without a food source (insects) it might not be able to muster the appropriate fuel for a second Spring “kick start”. Cavers are generally very conservation concious, to belong to a community such as the caving one invariably means that your fellows teach, guide and mentor you. Rob Laidlaw is the Toronto Cave Group’s bat expert, he has written an exceptional article on bats in the club’s magazine, “The Toronto Caver”. With his permission I will attempt to reproduce it on the web some time soon.