Longest Underwater Cave in Mexico

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Longest Underwater Cave in Mexico

Postby FW » Jan 26, 2007 8:46 am

Posted for Steve Bogaerts:

Dear Friends,
On 25 January, 2007 Robbie Schmittner and I were finally able to connect
Sistema Sac Actun formerly the second longest underwater cave system in
the world to Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich formerly the third longest
underwater cave system in the world.
Sistema Sac Actun is now the longest underwater cave in the world
overtaking the previously unrivaled Sistema Ox Bel Ha.
Sac is now also the longest cave in Mexico and the 9th longest cave in
the world which includes all of the dry cave systems.
This accomplishment has been 4 years in the making. It has been an
incredible adventure and at times an emotional rollercoaster as we have
been close on several occasions but not been able to make the final
connection. We were both confident at one point that we would have made
the connection by December 2004 as we had promising leads from both
sides but they never quite made it and it ended up taking us another 3
years to achieve.
The final connection between Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich and Sistema Sac
Actun occurred between the Muul Ha region in Sac Actun, and the Cenote
Manati (aka Casa Cenote) region in Nohoch Nah Chich. Cenote Por One, an
extremely small and uninviting cave, is positioned between these two
areas. Following eight months of sidemount and no-mount exploration, Por
One was connected to Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich on the 12th January.
Seven more days of exploration dives following this led to the final
connection between Sac and Nohoch.
On the day of the connection Robbie started his dive from Muul Ha in
sidemount configuration equipped with 5 tanks , a DPV and a bottle of
champagne! I began my dive from Manati wearing my sidemount harness over
my no-mount rig with 3 tanks a dpv and a digital camera. The side mount
harness would be staged forty five minutes into the dive and another 45
minutes no-mounting would bring me to the end of the line. We timed our
dives to arrive at the connection point at the same time placed the
bottle of Champagne between the 2 lines and used that to make the
station for the final tie off between the two cave systems.
It is now possible to traverse from the Pabilany cenote (W of the
Calimba cenote on the Coba Road) around the Grand Cenote (Sac Actun),
Cenote Esqueleto (Temple of Doom), Cenote Naval, Cenote Abejas, Cenote
Nohoch Kin, bypass Manati, press on to Balancanche, Cenote Nohoch Nah
Chich, pass by the Dinner Hole Cenote, and end up in the Dirty Dog or
Pet Cemetery Cenotes. In straight line distance, that's a bit over 10
kilometers. But there's 152,975 meters (501,887 feet) of cave to look at
on the way.
As Sac Actun was 14,300 meters (47,000 feet) longer than Nohoch Nah
Chich at the time of connection, following cave naming convention the
entire cave will now be known as Sistema Sac Actun.
When examinimg an area overview it is apparant that the last four years
of exploration have had a radical impact on the appearance of the
coastal drainage patterns and may well require a rethink on the
hydrology of the area as well as showing the extremely high degree of
connectivity in this karst aquifer.
Robbie and I both hope that our work will be useful for scientists and
conservationists seeking to learn more about this unique and fragile
environment and get it the protection it deserves.
Steve Bogaerts
Any opinions are personal.
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