After months of searching Yucatan’s underwater caves, a group of divers from Mexico, have finally found the world’s largest submerged cave system. This impressive flooded cave was discovered on the Carraibean Coastline, in Quintana Roo.
The group of divers that made the discovery are part of the Gran Aquifero Maya Project (GAM) which conducts researches on water preservation in the Yucatan Peninsula.
How did they find it?
Scientists stumbled upon this massive underwater cave system while exploring two other known caves near a beach resort called Tulum. By investigating a system of tunnels of 93 kilometers/57.3 miles long called Dos Ojos (“Two eyes”) they found out that the big gargantuan passage named Sac Actun is in fact connected to Dos Ojos and not two separate cave systems like they initially thought. Yucatan Peninsula’s submerged cave systems are spanning 1400 km of hidden flooded tunnels.
According to Guillermo de Anda, underwater archeologist and director from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, the largest flooded cave is the most important underwater archeological site in the world.
Robert Schmitter, The Head of the GAM team of scientists stated that it took more than 20 years to search the Quintana Roo area of submerged caves and more than half of this time was spent investigating the giant Sac Actun system of tunnels. He added that they were really close to finding the connection between the cave systems a few times and that it was easy to get lost in the labyrinth of tunnels but their team efforts were totally worth it.
Now that Sac Actun and Dos Ojos are no longer two distinct cave systems, the entire region hosts 358 subterranean tunnels spanning an overwhelming 347 km/ 216 miles of submerged caverns, which makes Sac Actun the largest underwater cave. This sunken maze contains many preserved Maya relics and extinct fauna and flora.
It is a known fact that the entire Yucatan Peninsula is home to remnants of the Maya people and various artifacts but what makes this region so special for scientists is the cave system which de Anda says it will help understand the rich culture of the region. This region was dominated by the Maya civilization before the Spanish conquest.