GUE divers contribute to survey, science and exploration in Mexico

By Fred Devos
Photos by: K.Dicker, D. Carrillo


From June 14 to 19, twelve GUE divers from six different countries participated in the annual Science, Survey and Exploration project held in Quintana Roo, Mexico. The event was hosted by Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), Mexico Cave Exploration Project (MCEP), Centro Investigador del Sistema Aquífero de Quintana Roo (CINDAQ) and Zero Gravity Dive Center. The week was very productive and all participants enjoyed the project.

Twenty-one dives were conducted from seven different sites ranging from open water transects to cave penetrations of more than 3,600 m / 12,000 ft with depths ranging from a few meters / ft to 75 m / 250 ft. Bottom times for the week totaled more than 40 hours.

SURVEY
The team continued the ongoing objectives of mapping one of the main tunnels of the Ox Bel Ha Cave System. This passage of the world's longest underwater cave has been host to many years of scientific data collection and is a major conduit for water flowing to the Caribbean Sea. A detailed sidewall map is nearly finished and its production will greatly serve the needs of scientists to understand and interpret a multitude of measurements from this underwater cave system as well as its related features.

SCIENCE
Dr. Christopher Werner and Dr. Eduard Reinhardt coordinated scientific efforts during the week continuing with the numerous years of studies aimed at better understanding the freshwater aquifer of the area. Some of their recent findings will be presented at the upcoming GUE conference in December.

Data was collected in regards to the conductivity, dissolved oxygen, Ph and temperature of the water and elements of the sediment in both the caves and open water sites.

In addition, this week marked the launch of a CINDAQ initiative called Cave Check where Reefnet temperature and depth sensors are "adopted" and deployed. Ten new sensors were installed during the project and are currently collecting and storing data every 30 minutes. As well 5 existing temperature sensors from ERI were recovered and re-deployed. The geographic location of all these sensors can be viewed at www.cindaq.org/CINDAQ%20English/sensor.html Upon retrieval, this data will be included in the GUE Project Baseline initiative (www.projectbaseline.org)

EXPLORATION In addition to Science and Survey an additional 450 m / 1,500 ft of passage was added to the length of Ox Bel Ha. And the final survey dive detailing the sidewalls of Yax Chen led to a new passage discovery which could prove to be a door to an entirely new area of Ox Bel Ha. Further investigation of this lead will become top priority for MCEP during their next exploration project.
The week was a great example of how GUE divers, as part of a team, can play an important role as a tool for underwater science, survey and exploration. Thanks to the sensor sponsors and for the dedication and hard work by all the participants.

PROJECT DIVERS:
Alex Alvarez
Franco Attolini
David Carrillo
Fred Devos
Kathy Dicker
Chris Le Maillot
Dave Mothershaw
Marcus Newbold
Dr. Eduard Reinhardt
Daniel Riordan
Johannes Hernández Rustige
Dr. Christopher Werner

SENSORS ADOPTED BY:
Bay Area Underwater Explorers (BAUE) (2)
Lynne Flaherty
Maren Isigkeit
Eduard Reinhardt (3)
Christopher Werner (2)
Richard Wylde



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