This past week I have been in Cancun Mexico for a conference, and was lucky enough to take an afternoon dive to a Cenote. Cenotes are a deep natural sink hole that are filled with fresh water. In certain areas saltwater can enter the Cenote forming a halocline that is visible during a dive. A halocline is a sharp change in salt concentration over a small change in depth which results in a blurry visual effect caused by refraction between the different densities of fresh and saline waters.
In Mexico there are over 5000 Cenotes, many of which have not been fully explored. Cenotes have a historic importance as they were used by the Mayans for sacrificial offerings. There are different types of Cenotes:
- Cenotes-cántaro- Have a surface connection which is narrower than the diameter of the water body
- Cenotes-cilíndricos- Have vertical walls
- Cenotes-aguadas- Have shallow water basins
- Grutas- Have a horizontal entrance with dry section
The Cenote I visited was called the Chac Mool and it was truly incredible. After a two hour drive from Cancun,we entered onto a private property in the middle of the jungle. We set up our gear and walked down to a small body of water (see image below).
This small body of water leads into an underground network of caves and caverns. Our dives were incredible! Entering into the cavern network you could see daylight for the start of the dive; however there were times when you had to rely on your torch for orientation. Guidelines are secured on the base of the cavern for divers to use who enter the more advanced cave networks. Approximately 1,700 feet into the cavern network we reached a large room which contained a giant stalactite named Xich Ha Tunich (“Giant Drip Stone” in Mayan). In the cavern network we also saw a lot of fossilized corals and shells. These really were some unforgettable dives and the pictures below do not do them justice, but I hope you enjoy them!