Friday, January 01, 2016
SISTEMA MURENA - AAK KAMIN - the Dead Turtle Cave.
The land owners are many. The maximum distance explored and surveyed is 31,375 feet/9563 meters as of April, 2014. The maximum depth is 225 feet/68.6 meters. There are 15 cenotes within this cave system. Some of the cenotes are Cenote Ballena (16 0468570 N / 2257948 E), Big Cenote, Cenote Brick (0468725 N / 2258186 E), Cenote Shaky Condo, Entrada Laguana Lagarto, Entrada Ballena, Entrada Maurena, Entrada Aak Kamin, Cenote Spray, and 40 meters Crack.
There is no cavern but plenty of excellent snorkeling as this cave system feeds into the Yal Ku Caleta (16Q 0468153 UMT 2257000) located behind Half Moon Bay in North Akumal.
The cave system is mostly devoid of speleothems as most of the passages being close to the ocean run parallel to the Caribbean Sea. The side mount configuration would be the preferred equipment configuration as many of the passages are low and very silty.
The best entry way is at Entrada Ballena of Caleta Yal Ku where permission must be given.
Other entries are Cenote Ballena (16Q 0468670 UMT 2257948), Cenote Brick 16Q 0468725 UMT 2258186), and Cenote _____ (16Q 0469082 UMT 225 8689).
Yal-ku inlet is best reached via Akumal. The community is small but strongly committed to the environment. They charge a small fee (which they use to preserve the lagoon) to enter the inlet. It is not permitted to use sun block or to bring any food or drinks and visits are limited to a number of people at a time.
Nothing comes close to the fantastic experience of snorkeling at Yal-ku Lagoon. It is a hidden, yet enchanting place of legend. You can go on a tour arranged by a tour desk at your hotel. If you get a good map and rent a car, however, you can go by yourself. Rental equipment is not available on site, so you'll have to bring your own. If you opt to join a tour group to Akumal, equipment will be provided for you.
When arriving at Yal-ku Lagoon, walk down a short, winding path to the lagoon entrance. It contains a mix of salt and fresh water, which is so calm and clear that you feel like plunging in.
Once in the water, you are immediately met by hundreds of colorful fish. Wonders can be observed in depths no greater than six feet and there are little or no waves at all. Submerged rock formations create a fascinating underwater terrain and the ideal habitat for the exotic marine creatures which you can see perfectly while snorkeling, whether you simply float on the surface or dive underwater to see them.
Several species of tropical fish spend some time here before they reach the proper size and maturity. After which, they move out into the immensity of the ocean and start their survival of the fittest. Watch for starfish and urchins, damselfish, sergeant majors, hamlets, parrotfish, blue tangs and queen triggerfish, among other Caribbean species. Remember that sea urchins are beautiful but potentially dangerous. The spines that protrude from their exoskeletons can easily pierce the skin and their poison acts very quickly.
Damselfish and sergeant majors are small but pugnacious so don't be surprised if they charge: they do that if they feel threatened. But remember, they are normally no longer than seven inches in length so there is nothing to worry about.
Bird watchers will be delighted with the area, which is abundant with various tropical species. Herons are especially prevalent but other water and shore birds are routinely sighted, such as cranes, pelicans, seagulls and egrets.
Yal-ku is certainly a jewel of an inlet and one of the best-kept secrets on the Riviera Maya .
There are no bathroom facilities available except at Caleta Yal-Ku.
Access to many parts of this cave system is on private property and closed.
The first explorers was Greg Brown who died February 27th, 2006 of natural causes along with Jim Coke and Johanna DeGroot. Other explorers are Mauro Bordignon, J.F. Huard, Jason Renoux, and Pierre Montes.