The Gibraltar Museum’s Caving Unit forms part of the Gibraltar Museums Gibraltar Caves Research Project which has been running since 1989 working in key archaeological sites around Gibraltar and also researching sites and collections which were excavated in the past.
The group was established in 2011 by Professor Clive Finlayson and Dr Geraldine Finlayson with the aim of researching and accessing sites which needed specialist skills.
The group, led by Stewart Finlayson from the Gibraltar Museum, consists of nine members each providing the group with different specialist skills ranging from surveyors to abseilors, researchers to people trained in confined spaces. Many of the team’s members are qualified in these skills.
The team is best known for its pioneering work in cataloguing the caves of Gibraltar. It had always been said that the total number of caves in Gibraltar was 154 but through this group’s hard work and with the help of its ‘sister group’ the Gibraltar Museum’s Underwater Research Unit (URU), they have now brought the official list up to 213 cave sites, and the number is still growing! Many new cave systems and sites have been discovered recently and are now being investigated for archaeological remains and are being protected.
Part of the group’s work is the research into the caves’ histories. Many new and exciting facts about the history of our sites, including who discovered them, named them etc., have been unearthed and we will be adding this information to our website on a regular basis. A lot of this research has taken place by interviewing members of the public who have shared their personal experiences while caving and exploring in Gibraltar.
The Gibraltar Museum’s Caving Unit (or GMCU) is also heavily involved in a bat monitoring/protection project in collaboration with the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) under the Gibraltar Government’s Ministry for the Environment with the support of specialists from the UK and the Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC) Spain. The aim is to protect key areas in Gibraltar for bats and to establish detailed information on species, population numbers, migratory usage of sites and breeding sites. So far this project has yielded some very interesting results including a new species for Gibraltar.
The team is also working closely with specialists from the GONHS in sampling Gibraltar's underground sites for invertebrates and other cave dwelling fauna. So far this project is yielding some spectacular results which will be published soon.
The group is a registered member of the BCA (British Caving association) and of the BCRA (British Cave Research Association).