33 Kayakers Rescued From Watery Demise

Strong gusts and turbulent waters trapped thirty-three kayakers near a cave on Nickajack Lake in Tennessee this week.  Several of the rescued were children.

According to a social media post by fire authorities, the Haletown Volunteer Fire Department, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA)  all responded to the lake around 8 pm local time on March 25th.

According to the TWRA, who spoke with Chattanooga local news, the kayakers had paddled to a coastline close to the cave and signaled for assistance when the wind blew several of them into the water. Following the capsize of a rescue boat belonging to the New Hope Fire Department, the agency assisted in transporting the rescued.

The crew was able to get back on the water since the boat was unharmed and were able to get the kayakers safely to land even though the water was in awful condition.  Wind speeds recorded by local media ranged from twenty to forty miles per hour throughout that period.

Firefighters rescued all 33 members of the tour group and reported no injuries. Eight of the rescued individuals were kids. According to the TWRA, nobody was injured because everyone was wearing a life jacket.

According to TWRA Boating Officer David Holt, this incident highlights the need for life jackets. Due to the intense wind speeds and a water temperature of 50 degrees, life jackets were essential for protection.

Throughout its history, Nickajack Cave has played host to both Native Americans escaping river pirates.

An essential component of gunpowder, saltpeter was mined from the cave by the Confederacy and the Union during the Civil War.

Due to its role as a nesting site for gray bats, Nickajack is among the most significant caves in the area known as the Tennessee Valley.  Bats have a reliable food supply from the hundreds of insects they eat every night in the reservoir, and in the spring, pregnant females come to give birth to only one pup.

White-nose syndrome is a fungal illness that can kill 95% of a bat colony in only two years. In 1981, the cave was gated to shield the bats against human intrusion and to minimize the spread of this disease.