Within a thirty-minute drive of Puerto Aventuras, there is more than 1 million feet of explored cave passage. Although this seems unbelievable, imagine what the future holds, as many feel that 90% of the caves in this area remain unexplored!
A Growing Database
In February, Daniel Riordan and myself ran up and down the coast locking in GPS locations of known cave systems and related features, hoping to learn more about the "big picture". In the past, oversized egos and personal agendas have stunted the effort of putting the puzzle pieces together, but now most active explorers are contributing to a growing catalog of raw data. I have recently dusted off my pile of survey information and sent it to James (Jim) Coke.
Over the years, Jim has contributed greatly to the understanding of this area's aquifer and runs an informative website dedicated to compiling speleological survey data of Quintana Roo - QRSS
It is all of our hopes to one day see a concise map showing the relationship between known caves so we can better understand the entire area's underground aquifer.
Ox Bel Ha - Winter Project
From December 9th to 19th, Grupo de Exploración Ox Bel Ha (GEO) went into the jungle to once again work at determining the extent of the world's longest underwater cave. On this project we didn't actually add line to Sistema Ox Bel Ha but rather concentrated on several nearby systems to reveal their role in the areas aquifer.
Twenty-four dives were made in Sistema Ayim, Naharal, and St.Andrés. We proved the existence of over 24,000 feet of new cave passage and discovered Cenote Ak'Al Che. With a limited budget, we accomplished a great deal and look forward to another project this coming summer.
Punto Venado Dry Caves
Exploration continues in Punto Venado with the discovery of a beautiful dry-cave system. Daniel Riordan and I stumbled across a small opening in the wall of a major breakdown. With one light between the two of us, we were not equipped to push the limits of the system but did manage to get a peak at some beautifully decorated rooms and several small animal skeletons on the floor. We have since spoken with dry-cavers in the area who know of more entrances on the property and with their help will work at mapping these caves.
Don Inocencio has lived on his land for over 30 years. Over the past 4 years, many exploratory dives have been made from several cave entrances found on his property with passages running under most of the dense jungle. It was a surprise when he told Christophe Le Maillot that he had discovered a new cenote.
With descriptions of clear blue water, we raced a set of gear and a diver to the site. The jungle floor dropped to reveal a large breakdown with a promising cave entrance under the northwest wall. A small alter stood by the water and Don Inocencio explained the early Mayan belief in the Alux (similar to leprechauns) and how these altars were a way to appease these powerful midgets. It was a spiritual setting and more so once we descended through the rays of sunlight piercing the cool water. The crack opened to a large decorated cavern and the floor sloped toward a defined passage. A short amount of line kept greed from taking over and after 20 minutes, we returned to make a plan for the following day.
With help from Don Inocencio, a second dive was made in the newly named Sistema Mino-mi and added to the previous day's line. The passage was unexpectedly deep, soon narrowed and finally pinched shut. Returning, we poked around the cavern zone but the only water-flow passed through the muddy banks. It is unlikely that this system will grow larger than the present 1,098 feet (334 m), but no doubt more cenotes exist here, hidden in the thick jungle.
DIR México/ Pto. Aventuras
Quintana Roo, México 77733
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