If you’ve ever been to a cenote here in the Yucatan Peninsula, you won’t hesitate to call these beautiful, natural pools of water a natural wonder. I have no idea if they have that distinction “officially,” but they sure should.
In case you don’t know about them, cenotes are naturally-occuring pools of water which form in sink-holes opening up to the water table; they connect to the area’s vast network of underground caves and rivers. They are wonderful for snorkeling, swimming and even diving.
One point about cenotes that many people don’t know about is that they are also a sensitive eco-system; besides the plant and animal life within them, water from cenotes can also make its way to the Caribbean Sea and impact the equally sensitive coral reef ecosystem.
Many parks have rules posted, like no using sunscreen or insect repellant because these can harm the life inside the cenote.
Thankfully, the effort to protect these beautiful phenomena is going to the next level with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) now producing a document and education program to teach property owners what steps to take to protect themselves and the cenote’s ecosystem.
Here’s an excerpt from an article on INAH’s website:
“In order to strengthen the protection and conservation of the region’s cultural, archaeological, historical and paleontological heritage specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) created a statutory provision for the proper use of the cenotes, caves and underground of the Yucatan Peninsula.
“Archaeologist Antonio Huitron, director of INAH Site Operations, said the document will serve to educate the owners and users of caves and cenotes. It will present the actions to be followed to safeguard and care for them, as well as legal restrictions from various levels of government.”
(Source, in Spanish)
The article also notes that there will be obligatory registration of cenotes so that they can be recorded in the Public Registry of Monuments and Archaeological Sites for protection.
While the article does not specify exactly which rules will be in the document and education program, let’s hope that the program helps to improve the protection of this natural wonder!
For more information on eco-friendly areas and activities click here!