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Cenote Kankirixche

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Map of Cenote Kankirixche: Roberto Hashimoto, Agustin Garcia, 1999

Cave Type: Cenote - solutional cave system

Location: Mukuyche, Yucatan

Length: 438 m

Maximum depth: 53 m

Description: Located 49 kilometers south of Merida, Cenote Kankirixche, "Yellow Fruit Tree", has 15 m drop to water level down a breakdown slope that can be negotiated with a handline. Large tree roots penetrate down into the cave and hang in large clumps just below the water surface. The cavern area of this cave system is one of the largest in Mexico. Depths range from 5 to nearly 50 m and it is almost circular with a diameter of approximately 90 m. At an appropriate time of the day, a shaft of light from the entrance penetrates the crystal clear water of this giant submerged cavern and provides a spectacular sight. An abundance of submerged stalactites on the flat ceiling of the cavern provides an ideal excursion for cavern divers.

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Cenote Kankirixche: tree roots at cavern entrance

In the southwest corner of the cavern, a low but wide tunnel at 50-53 m water depths passes through a bedding plane that opens onto borehole-like passage, the Koosh Anak. Although almost blocked by collapse, a restriction at the top of the breakdown pile provides access to a huge chamber, about 90 m long and 45 m wide with a floor to ceiling height of approximately 18 m. Two passages lead out of this room, one of which has been explored to a maximum penetration of 313 m and depth of 53 m. There seems to be no flow in the entire cave system, but the water remains extremely clear. The floor is covered with light brown, heavy silt. Due to the depth involved, exploratory dives require extended decompression.

Hydrology: Surface water is fresh. A halocline is found at a depth of 48 m in the back sections of the cave.

Diving Mode: Standard cave scuba; trimix recommended for deeper exploration.

History: The first dives were conducted by Fernando Rosado and the cave diving club of Yucatan in 1980 in the open water area of the cavern. The first exploration cave dives were carried out by the Yucatan Speleological Society and lead by Agustin Garcia in February 1998. The Koosh Anak Passage and farther sections of the cave were first explored by Agustin Garcia and Andreas W. Matthes in March 1998.

Fauna: A blind, white eel about 8 cm in length, possibly Ophisternon infernale, has been observed in this cave.

Conservation status: No trash is present but some damage has been done to the stalactites.

Contributor: Andreas W. Matthes, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo; Roberto Hashimoto and Agustin Garcia, Merida, Yucatan

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