World’s biggest underwater cave found in Mexico

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World’s biggest underwater cave found in Mexico

By
18 January 2018

By | 18 January 2018

The discovery could help unravel the secrets of the ancient Maya civilisation

The hunt for the biggest, the massive, and the extreme is an aspect of basic human curiosity. Now researchers claim they have found what they believe to be world’s biggest system of flooded caves.

A group of scuba divers has discovered that Sac Aktun cave complex near Tulum, Mexico, is the world's longest underwater cave — Herbert Mayrl / Courtesy Gran Acuifero Maya Project (GAM) / Handout via Reuters Mexico, biggest cave underwater Gran Acuifero Maya Group Created with Sketch. A group of scuba divers has discovered that Sac Aktun cave complex near Tulum, Mexico, is the world’s longest underwater cave — Herbert Mayrl / Courtesy Gran Acuifero Maya Project (GAM) / Handout via Reuters

 

A group of divers has connected two underwater caverns in eastern Mexico and they say this discovery could help shed new light on the ancient Maya civilisation.

The Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM), 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 ten months of exploring a maze of underwater channels, Reuters reports.

Near the beach resort of Tulum, the group confirmed something what had been suspected for a while. The cave system known as Sistema Sac Actun, once measured at 263km, is actually linked with the 83km Dos Ojos system, the GAM said in a statement. For that reason, Sac Actun now absorbs Dos Ojos.

The whole system contains around 200 small caves joined together make up to 314km, which is three kilometres longer than the route from Liverpool to London.

GAM director and underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda 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.