MCEP / CINDAQ Press Release - June 2009

Text by Chris Le Maillot,
photos by Casey McKinlay


The caves of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve on the Mexican Caribbean coast has become a major focal point for MCEP (Mexico Cave Exploration Project) & CINDAQ (Centro Investigador del Sistema Aquífero de Quintana Roo) joint projects.

More than 15,000 meters / 50,000 ft of new tunnels have been discovered in cave systems under the wetlands of this UNESCO World Heritage site over the last 3 years of exploration. These caves account for an important quantity of water movement in this area with significant flows in both the fresh and salt water layers. Much is still needed in order to fully understand the unique cave hydrology of this area.

Over the years, GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) has become a key partner in the success of cave exploration in the area with support through training, logistics and diver resources.

Joining the team for the June 20 to 24 exploration project were visiting GUE and WKPP members Casey McKinlay and David Rhea. Their enthusiastic participation was hugely appreciated during the week and their invaluable experience contributes greatly to the advancement in productive RB80 rebreather exploration in Mexico.

Although not comparable to the visibility in most other Mexican caves, the diving conditions in Sian Kaan were excellent with at times up to 30 m / 100 ft visibility in the freshwater and 9 m / 30ft in the salt water.

The multiple exploration teams using RB80 rebreathers entered the Boca Paila cave; successfully extending the furthest part of the cave by another 596 m / 1,957 ft. This brings the penetration distance from the single entrance to over 3,000 m / 10,000 ft. Other objectives included the exploration and survey of side-tunnels in the 1,500 m / 5,000 ft to 2,500 m / 8,000 ft range. This has now brought the total length of this single entry cave to 7,620 m / 25,441 ft.

In addition, the team dedicated a day of exploration in the Ox Bel Ha cave system from a cenote named "Coca Ha" concentrating on some of the leads established over the past few months. This day resulted in 921 m / 3021 ft of new exploration and although we were able to close the door on some of the previously known leads, more questions here remain to be answered.

More project reports will be posted on the GUE website soon.

Project Divers:
Fred Devos, Chris Le Maillot, Casey McKinlay, Sam Meacham, David Rhea & Danny Riordan.

Thanks to: The Waitt Institute for Discovery, The National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), Halcyon Manufacturing, Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP), Francisco Ursua Guerrero-Director of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, La Reserva de la Biosphera de Sian Ka'an, Joyce and Lester Coleman, Jerry Simpson, Will Harte, Alex Angell and Eva Manessiotis, Louisa Meacham and John Faraguna, Pedro & Federico, Capitan Juan, Haciendas de Bacalar, Ejido Jose Maria Pino Suarez, Ejido Tulum, Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Quintana Roo(CINDAQ) & Zero Gravity Dive Center.


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