World’s longest underwater cave discovered in Mexico!

Mexico City, Jan 17: Mexico is well-known for its cenotes – which are underwater caves, usually jump-in-able and swimmable. They’re a big attraction all across the country for tourists and locals alike.

A group of divers from Mexico has connected two underwater tunnels in eastern Mexico to reveal what is believed to be the biggest flooded cave on the planet. The discovery by the divers also helps to shed new light on the ancient Maya civilization.

< The Gran Acuifero Maya, a project dedicated to the study and preservation of the subterranean waters of the Yucatan peninsula, said the 347km (216-mile) cave was identified after months of exploring a maze of underwater channels.

Near the beach resort of Tulum, the group found that the cave system is known as Sac Actun, once measured at 263 km, connected with the 83km Dos Ojos system, the project said in a statement. Sac Actun now absorbs Dos Ojos.

The interconnected system measures 347 kilometers and has an average depth of 20 meters, although in some sections it is as shallow as two meters and in others as deep as 100.

Guillermo de Anda, director and underwater archaeologist on the Gran Acuifero Maya team, said the “amazing” find would help to understand the development of the rich culture of the region, which was dominated by the Maya civilization before the Spanish conquest.

“It allows us to appreciate much more clearly how the rituals, the pilgrimage sites and ultimately the great pre-Hispanic settlements that we know emerged,” he told Reuters.

The Yucatan peninsula is studded with monumental relics of the Maya people, whose cities drew upon an extensive network of sinkholes linked to subterranean waters known as cenotes.

Some cenotes acquired particular religious significance to the Maya, whose descendants continue to inhabit the region.

According to data from the Quintana Roo Speleological Survey, there are 358 underwater cave systems in the north of the state alone.

Together, they are made up of around 1,400 kilometers of underwater passages including the 270-kilometer-long Ox Bel Ha system located to the south of Tulum.