Three quarters of the water of the Laguna de Chakanbacán, located in the community of Nicolás Bravo, municipality of Othón P. Blanco, Quintana Roo, was emptied by the formation of three sinkholes or pools, which caused the death of a large number of fish, turtles, swamp crocodiles and eels, among other species.
The locals reported that on Sunday, August 19, there was a loud “roar” and the body of water began to empty. By Wednesday, August 22, in the morning, a big part of the lagoon had dried up. They pointed out that this is not the first time this phenomenon has occurred.
The Chakanbacán lagoon is part of a project to boost tourism in the region, which includes the Ejido Om Lagoon, an archaeological zone not yet open to the public; as well as a lodging center near by.
Villagers say that this “natural disaster” not only affects the local ecosystem, but also the agricultural, livestock and tourism activities that were supplied by the lagoon’s water.
A day after the locals spread on social networks images of the sink holes, officials of the Office of Environmental Protection and the Institute of Biodiversity and Protected Natural Areas, both of Quintana Roo; from the National Forestry Commission, the National Water Commission, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, the Cocodrilia company and the ejido authorities went to the place to conduct an inspection.
They calculated that three quarters of the water in the lagoon, which measures about 200 hectares and has a depth of up to 10 meters, was lost through the three sinkholes, some six meters wide.
In the place a foul smell is perceived, mainly by the death of fish, turtles and eels, although the specialists think that the majority of the specimens could flee.
Some villagers assured that some of the surviving animals have been hunted by strangers, so the site is already protected by local rural authhorities.
A biologist representing Cocodrilia said that the lagoon is part of a crocodile ranch project that was to become an environmental management unit. “We were in the process of completing this project along with Semarnat (Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources).” The specialist indicated that a crocodile census will be done, with the support of an interdisciplinary team.
The director of municipal civil protection, Norman Macliberty Pacheco, said that it is necessary to carry out geological and geophysical studies of the subsoil with special equipment, and that the first results could take up to two months.
Ejidatarios reported that they heard a similar noise six years ago, but the sinkholes closed over time.
The oceanologist Alejandro Bravo explained that it is a natural phenomenon caused mainly by the karst soil that predominates in the Yucatan peninsula.
He recalled that other cases have occurred in Quintana Roo, such as a hole that formed on the coast of Playa del Carmen and another that originated a couple of years ago on the Cancun-Playa del Carmen highway.
He explained that some animals went through the tunnels or died in the mudholes; as for the crocodiles, he mentioned that they were able to move around and look for a new territory.
About the area that was left without water, the specialist said that it will be extremely fertile, because of the abundance of nutrients.
The municipality of Othon P. Blanco reported that the phenomenon only affected a minimum portion of the lagoon system and does not represent a risk to human life.
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