Nine marine species and cave paintings found in an uderground cave system that connects the cenote of Kaua and the Aktun Kaab cavern.
Merida, Yucatan, (October 19, 2021).- On Monday, October 18th, the Yucatán Secretariat for Sustainable Development (SDS) revealed the discovery of an underground connection between the Chuy Ha Cenote, located in the municipality of Kaua, with the Aktun Kaab dry cave, located in the community of Santa Rita, Chemax municipality, the largest registered in the state of Yucatán.
In this system of caves, 250 meters long, they have found nine aquatic species, four of them threatened and one in danger of extinction, known as Dama Blanca , as well as cave paintings.
The authorities indicated that they will seek for this discovery to become a geopark, if this name is obtained – granted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – it would be the third in the country and the fourth in Latin America; They will also request that it be recognized as a sanctuary of the “White Lady” (Dama Blanca).
The head of the SDS, Sayda Melina Rodríguez Gómez, explained that during the sanitation work of cenotes that they carry out every year, last August in the Chuy Ha cenote, located in the municipality of Kaua, about 30 kilometers from Mérida Cave diving experts rappelled down – about 18 meters deep – to reach the body of water, which has a diameter of 30 meters, a minimum depth of 18 meters and up to 34 meters in some parts.
When the prospecting work was done, the first stage of the geological analysis was carried out, they found nine species registered in this cenote, four of them threatened and one subject to special protection, the fish known as Dama Blanca or White Lady in English.
So divers and biologists kept exploring and found that there were several potential cave holes; They began to check which ones they could enter. Most of these caves were dead ends, but a couple did not..
When analyzing the material that the specialists documented, they realized that the place is not contracted far from a system of grottos or dry caves that are called Aktun Kaab; Due to the distance, they indicated that there was the possibility of being able to find a way of interconnection with the Chuy Ha cenote.
“The Aktun Kaab cave is the largest cave registered in the state and belongs to the list of the 50 longest Mexican caves, as it is made up of 10.36 kilometers of underground passages,” the expert explained.
Therefore, it was decided to establish an exploration group that could continue with the process and verify that there is indeed a connection, in this period they found cave paintings at the ends of the caves.
Finally, on August 15, they found the connection with Aktun Kaab, “the divers entered wet and came out dry and found other cave paintings in this dry part of the cave,” Zayda said.
“This is something that has never been seen in the state of Yucatan, it is the first time that the connection between these two karst systems, a cenote and a cave, has been confirmed, and it is also a great incentive in the scientific aspect”, he highlighted.
She also stressed that it is the largest connection of a cenote with a dry cave of these dimensions. There were no similar records before, just a few small ones.
“We hope that environmentally this will serve us to give more value to our bodies of water and karst and that the importance is recognized and that the investment in the sanitation of cenotes is justified, we need more support, more participation, not only from the private initiative but also from other groups of experts and from citizens as well ”, said Sayda Rodríguez.
She specified that she will initiate another research process with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to determine the origin of the cave paintings, their meaning, and other objects that may be found; They will also share the find with other academic and research institutions to continue their exploration of the cave.
As a next step, they will seek to obtain the Unesco geopark designation, which would bring specialized tourism opportunities, such as heritage.
In addition, it will house geological, paleontological, archaeological, biological, and hydrological investigations.
The exploration was carried out as part of the Comprehensive Recovery Strategy of Cenotes and Caves of the State of the SDS, whose objective is to improve the quality of the water and the health of the population, by recovering the ecological balance of these bodies.
This plan includes six lines of action: conservation and recovery of
- karst bodies
- education and environmental awareness
- sustainable use
- inter-institutional management and coordination.
Source: La Jornada Maya