Cave Enthusiasts Across the Globe Bring Attention to the Importance of our Subterranean World.

Frasassi/Genga-Italy (June 6 2019) —Members of the International Show Caves Association, join cave enthusiasts around the world to increase awareness about the importance of caves and karst landscapes by celebrating International Day of Caves and Subterranean World.

Show caves around the world will celebrate the day with special events, tours, and educational activities promoting environmental awareness and conservation, both in classrooms and at their respective caves. From lectures with some of the speleology world’s top experts to local caving and conservation organizations speaking to the importance of exploring, studying, protecting and preserving our caves and karst landscapes.

Caves and karst landscapes are places of wonder and majestic beauty. We see the recognition of the importance of our subterranean world increasing worldwide,” said Brad Wuest, president of the International Show Caves Association, and president, owner and operator of Natural Bridge Caverns, Texas, USA. “Show caves worldwide are embracing their role of protecting and preserving caves and providing a place for people to learn about these special, natural, cultural and historical resources. Show caves also play an important role in nature tourism and sustainable development, providing jobs and helping the economy of their regions. Approximately 150 million people visit show caves each year, learning about our subterranean world” said Wuest.

Caves and karst make landscapes diverse, fascinating and rich in resources, including the largest springs and most productive groundwater on Earth, not to mention at least 175 different minerals, a few of which have only been found in caves. These landscapes provide a unique subsurface habitat for both common and rare animals and preserve fragile archaeological and paleontological materials for future generations.

Everyone is touched by caves and karst. Water, food, cultural history, and scientific research that supports and benefits everyone on the planet—not just the 25 percent of the world’s population who either lives on or obtains its water from karst aquifers,” said Dr. George Veni, Executive Director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute and President of the International Union of Speleology. “Caves are incredibly diverse, and although most caves are found in karst, there are also lava tube caves, sandstone and glacial caves. Caves can be decorated with speleothems or ice in colder climates. They can be filled with fresh water or under the ocean. Caves are also rich in biodiversity and home to many plant and wildlife species — some that are only found in caves,” continued Dr. Veni.

Caves are diverse in-depth, length, size and shape as well. Veryovkina Cave in the Eurasian country of Georgia is the deepest cave in the world at 2,212 meters. Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, USA, has a length of over 651 kilometers and is the longest known cave on Earth.

Sarawak Chamber in Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysia is the world’s largest cave room by surface area, with 164,459 square meters of expanse. Hang Sơn Đoòng, in Vietnam, has the world’s biggest cave passage with an internal, fast-flowing subterranean river and a forest ecosystem where sunlight enters the cave from giant sinkholes. It measures 38.5 million cubic meters. Divers recently discovered an underwater passage in Hang Sơn Đoòng leading to the nearby Thung Cave.  When officially connected, it will add 1.6 million cubic meters in volume to the biggest cave in the world.

Caves are repositories of pre-history, rich in paleontology with fossils and the bones of prehistoric creatures. Caves often yield the bones of prehistoric animals as well as the artifacts of prehistoric man,” said Wuest. The oldest known cave paintings in Europe are estimated to be 64,000 years old in the caves of Maltravieso, Ardales and La Pasiega, Spain. 

Caves have played more recent history-making roles, from the mining of bat guano to make gunpowder and fertilizer, to France’s Bedeilhac Cave which served as a hidden French, then German, aircraft hangar during World War II, ”continued Wuest.  Criminals, such as the famous American outlaw Jesse James, used caves as both a hideout and a place to store stolen goods. The oldest known show cave in the world is believed to be Reed Flute Cave in China with inscriptions from 792 in the time of Tang Dynasty. The first recorded cave tour in Europe was at Postojna Cave, Slovenia in 1213. Vilenica Cave also in Slovenia, holds the record for being open to visitors and collecting entrance fees since 1633. 

Caves are important natural resources because of their unique beauty, history, and their role in a healthy environment. They play key roles in groundwater movement, serve as habitat for threatened and endangered animal species, and they provide outstanding opportunities for scientific study and gaining a better understanding of the geology and hydrogeology of karst landscapes, and the relationships between the environment we see at the surface and the one that is hidden underground.

To locate an ISCA member in your area, please click here. Limited membership photography is available here.


The International Show Caves Association (ISCA) was founded in 1990 and is headquartered in Frasassi/Genga, Italy.  ISCA is an international organization of persons, associations, corporations and government agencies who own, manage or operate show caves that are open to the public. ISCA provides a critical forum for show caves to network and collaborate on matters that pertain to their caves.  ISCA aims to promote, encourage, and support the cooperation of show cave operators, speleologists and cave enthusiasts through the sharing of information and to promote the preservation and conservation of caves, while increasing public interest in the world of show caves by way of unique marketing and the evolution of methods to enhance the show cave experience.

Address: Largo Leone XII 60040 Genga Ancona, Italy Email: Tel: + (39) 0732 972108 @NaturalBridgeCaverns