Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cenote Cave Dives

While I was down there I did one of my favorite dives yet - a Cenote cavern dive. We did 2 tanks in the Chac-Mool Cenote, about 45 minutes from Cancun. The dives are known as much for the amazing light show coming from the cave openings as for anything else. It really is breathtaking to come through a tunnel and see beautiful shafts of blue light. It looks completely unreal and you'd swear it was the special effects for some movie.

The water was very warm - 75-78 degrees according to my computer. Most of the dive was freshwater, but there are places in the caves where the saltwater from the ocean backs up the river and lingers. Because of that, we crossed the Halocline (division between salt and freshwater) several times. Each time we would go nearly blind because where the two waters converge becomes very blurry and hard to see through, like olive oil trying to mix with water. One diver said it reminded him of looking through the heat waves rising off hot pavement, only more intense. The other crazy thing about crossing the halocline is that your bouyancy changes drastically. You are almost twice as bouyant in the saltwater as you are in the fresh, so you had to take care to keep from rising into the ceiling in the saltwater or descending into the stalagmites in the freshwater.

Speaking of Stalagmites, there were only a few of those, but there were lots of stalagtites hanging from the ceiling. most were small (under 1'), but there were a couple rooms where they grew to 10' or more. It was pretty cool. There was even one huge room (maybe 80' feet long and 40' high) that had an air pocket at the top. That's the photo you see of me floating with my mask off. That air pocket was at one of the farthest points we entered. It was pretty cool.

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