Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve Exploration Report - May 2009


From May 4 to 9, CINDAQ and MCEP continued with their joint exploration efforts in mapping the aquifer here in Quintana Roo, Mexico. This time further investigations were conducted using RB80 rebreathers in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

During the last 3 years, 5 caves were discovered below the wetlands that covers the majority of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Two of the caves, Entrada Caapechen and Entrada Boca Paila have become the main focus of exploration in the area. These caves are very unique and are characterized by high flow entrances and heavy percolation. A mysterious bacteria growth covers most of the walls, ceilings and floor and completely opposite flows of water can be witnessed above and below the halocline. Apart from the original entrance, no other openings have yet been discovered.

For this project, the team concentrated their investigation in Entrada Boca Paila. With the week of new exploration the cave now has a total length of over 9,000 meters / 30,000 ft.

Also, Cenote Coka Ha deep inside the Ox Bel Ha cave system has witnessed more exploration efforts during the week. The cave resembles a honeycomb with a large fresh water conduit at a depth of 15 m / 50 ft, other branching aisles starting below the halocline at a depth of 21 m / 70 ft and again darker well-defined but decorated tunnels starting at a depth of 30 m / 100 ft. The discovery of this deeper tunnel will keep the team working relentlessly in that particular area.

In addition to exploration efforts, Dr. Ed Reinhardt from Mc Master University & the Geographic Society conducted further sediment sampling and water profiling with a hydrolab. Dr Reinhardt´s on-going study is focused on foraminifera and thecamoebians. Both are amoebae with shells that live in the cave and are preserved in the sediment record. They are useful indicators in coastal environments for reconstructing salinity, sea levels changes, climate, etc…

Please stay tuned for more exciting exploration news.

Project divers: Alex Alvarez, Fred Devos, Chris Le Maillot, Sam Meacham, Dr Ed Reinhardt, Daniel Riordan & Blake Wilson.

Special thanks to: The Waitt Institute for Discovery, The National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), Comission Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP), Francisco Ursua Guerrero-Director of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, La Reserva de la Biophera 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 Acuifero de Quintana Roo (CINDAQ) & Zero Gravity Dive Center.

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