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Dive Review of Yucatech Expeditions/N/A in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Cozumel

July, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Patrick Wikstrom, NC, USA
Contributor   (14 reports)
Report Number 2730
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas; Belize; Bonaire; California Channel Islands; Cancun; Cayman Brac
& Little Cayman; Cocos Isl; Cozumel; Costa Rica; Florida- springs, west
coast, & keys; Indonesia; North Carolina; Massachusetts; Palau; Puerto
Rico; Roatan; Socorro; South Africa; Thailand; Truk; Turks & Caicos;
TVA lakes; Yap; Yucatan Caves;
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
74   to 0    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
2   to 200    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
all standard cave diving rules 
This report does not rate my accomodations -detailed in two other reports
-just the cave diving op. Obviously coral, pelagics, and most other scuba
ratings are not applicable.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
1 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
1 stars
1 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
Cave Diving Coz with Yucatech Expeditions  German Yanez Mendoza

While Cozumels reefs took a heavy hit during last years hurricane theres
one group of dive sites that remained untouched: the limestone solution
caves. Yucatech Expeditions conveniently located just a couple of blocks
off the main square is one of the handful of dive ops that conducts full
cave diving. Basically a one man show, German Yanez answers the e-mail,
mans the shop, drives the transport, and guides the dives. Its a fun
filled day diving with one of the principal explorers of the island caves.

All arrangements were conducted efficiently via the internet. German had my
preferred day available, reasonable rates for his rental equipment and dive
guide services, and told me to pay him when I got there. I rented a primary
light and long hose regulator, everything else I brought. After the
obligatory paperwork we rigged our gear on the back of an old pick up and
headed to the first site.

Aerolito, currently surveyed to just over 20,000ft in length is listed as
the 15th longest cave in the Yucatan. Unlike many of the commercial cenotes
along the Riviera Maya Aerolito has no picnic tables, platforms, stairs, or
any other dive site enhancements. We drove in on a rutted dirt road right
to the edge of the cenote where lake fish could be seen nibbling on algae.
Entrance was via a giant stride off the limestone ledge into the cool 74
degree water. 

Differences in the structure and appearance of the cave varied considerably
based on depth. In the shallowest sections small holes pockmarked the
ceilings showing evidence of percolation of rain water into the system. A
well defined halocline layer separated the fresh water on top and the salt
water lying below. During one long run of cave directly at the halocline we
moved through a visually confusing emulsion like an oil and vinegar salad
dressing. Generally in the fresh water sections there was more tannin
staining of the walls and spelotherms. The flowstones and other limestone
features were smoother and more graceful here. In the deeper saltwater
passages many decorations and cave structures appeared to be dissolving
leaving sharp angles and jagged edges throughout the cave. The floor of the
cave is uniformly covered in a layer of fine grey/brown silt. 

Known for its relative profusion of life we encountered albino sea stars,
white sponges, and blind cave fish. A small centipede-like creature, called
Remapede, crawled along a silty ledge. At one point I looked down and was
stunned to see a white shell-less tube worm with small squid like
tentacles. (Ofioros worm) Reaching down with my index finger I gently
touched the worm which immediately grabbed my finger with a surprisingly
strong grip for a 31/2 inch creature. Startled I jerked back and the worm
let go, popped off the silt, and began vigorously twisting and flopping
away in the water column like a Spanish Dancer eventually settling down a
couple of feet away. 

Negotiating some minor restrictions the cave opens into a beautiful room
filled with marvelous decorations and ornamentation. Dribbling flowstones
form the walls, sculpted columns of white and brown limestone appear to
hold up the roof, and delicate soda straws, stalactites and stalagmites
adorn the chamber. Hitting my thirds on the double 80s I make the sign
to turn the dive and we begin to slowly retrace our path. All along the way
I notice more beautiful formations that Id missed on the way in. Pausing
to undo our tie-ins and retrieve our reels Im spellbound by the majesty of
this system.  Eventually I notice a faint green glow and we stop for some
minor decompression before we leave the cave and re-enter the open bowl of
the cenote.  German later tells me wed penetrated somewhere between 1700
and 1800 ft. My computer says I reached a max depth of 60ft, ran an average
depth of 37ft, and spent a total of 92min on the dive.

After a break in town for lunch we reconvene a couple of hours later, load
up a fresh set of doubles and roll down the road towards Chankanaab. For
this dive we gear up along the shoulder of the highway and follow an almost
imperceptible game trail to the cenote. Loaded down in our gear and
carrying our fins we hobble through the woods crossing barbed wire fences
and pushing through thickets. Eventually we reach a murky brown pond
surrounded by jungle. Carefully wading in over the algae covered rocks I
find myself bobbing next to a small branch sticking up out of the water.
Tied to the branch is a thin white line. 

German admonishes me to be careful since if I bust this stick well loose
our lifeline. The descent is one at a time through the muddy, zero
visibility, brown water. Feet first we slither our way down an almost
vertical series of cracks and crevices eventually popping out around 25 ft
in the clear flow of the aquifer. This cave, Cueva Quebrada, seems to have
a more eerie feel about it. The walls seem darker and the silk looked
thicker.  We slip through several restrictions in a narrow passage and I
momentarily get stuck and have to push back to try a different approach.
But just like in Aerolito we break out into large rooms with interesting
structures and beautiful decorations. 

All in all it was a fun filled day diving with one of the principal
explorers of the island caves. German Yanez Mendoza is a wonderfully
personable entrepreneur who answers the e-mail, mans the shop, drives the
transport, and guides the dives. He also offers guided cenote tours on the
mainland for open water divers.  
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