The world's largest underwater cave system was discovered in the Yucatan Peninsula last week. The site isn't just an incredible natural site, but it's also filled with significant archaeological finds and unknown biodiversity.
The World's Largest Underwater Cave System
A team of explorers from the Great Maya Aquifer Project (GAM) made an astounding discovery that crosses various fields. After ten months of hard work, the team found a connection between two large underwater caverns in the Yucatan Peninsula.
On their own, the Sac Actun and Dos Ojos are two of the largest underwater cave systems in the world, with Sac Actun being the second largest and Dos Ojos being the fourth largest. Now that the explorers have found a connection between them, the entire system has turned into a 215-mile-long (346 kilometers) underwater cave system, making it the largest known in the world. As such, the entire system will now be called Sac Actun, as it is the larger of the two, as per cave-naming protocol.
Archaeological And Biodiversity Hotspot
Apart from having discovered the world's largest underwater cave, the team also notes the immense biodiversity they found in the system, something that GAM seeks to better understand in future explorations. What's more, they also found that the site is a treasure trove of Mayan archaeological effects, so much so that GAM program director Guillermo de Anda has described the site as the most important submerged archaeological site in the world.
The team has evidently documented evidence of ancient civilization, extinct plants, and Mayan culture. Interestingly, the ancient Mayan culture reveres some caves as sacred sites where the priests get to communicate with the gods.
'The Mother Of All Cenotes'
During the exploration, the team also found another system north of Sac Actun called the "mother of all cenotes." For the time being, the team regards it as an individual system, but it would also be possible to connect it to Sac Actun as well.
Researchers believe that there is the possibility that these systems are all connected, but for now, the next phase of their exploration involves studying the water and biodiversity of the system, as well as recording archaeological data. Naturally, proper conservation of the site is a part of their efforts as well.
"This is an effort of more than 20 years of travel hundreds of kilometers of underwater caves in Quintana Roo mainly, of which I spent 14 years exploring this monstrous Sac Actun system; Now everyone's job is to keep it," states Robert Schmittner, GAM director of exploration.