Aerolito Cozumel

Protecting Aerolito Cenote:  An Important Cozumel Natural Resource

Officials move to create a protected area for this ecologically important area..

 

Because of it’s limestone composition, Cozumel hosts a large number of underground caves, or centoes, that are responsible for much of the island’s fresh water supply.  As these fresh water systems discharge into lagoons and coves throughout the island they create a unique and important eco-system that literally can be found no where else in the world.

One of Cozumel’s most important Cenotes, El Aerolito, has recently gained much attention as environmentalists move to enact legislation that will preserve this area as a “naturally protected area” (ANP).  Currently the State of Quintana Roo has only 2 such protected areas, but there’s hope that El Aerolito will soon be the third.

The Cenote El Aerolito has been reported to be over 68 meters or 233  feet.  Since the area mixes salt and fresh water many unusual and unique forms of marine life have been documented including 23 species of echinoderms, new varieties of sponges and nearly all known groups of marine invertabrates.

In fact, back in 2004 island resident, and well-known Cave Instructor German Yanez is credited with discovering a form of sea star thought only to live in salt water.  To date, German Yanez has spent nearly 30 years, training and assisting cave divers through this very unique and fragile micro-ecosystem.

Studied by cavern divers all over the world, the cave-system has been likened to “a natural replica of the sea at 3,000 M deep, in complete darkness”  this important area has no regulation that limits the number of visitors, nor protects species from extraction.  Many of the creatures found are completely blind or devoid of all pigment due to the complete absence of light.

Various environmental groups, municipal offices and even the University of Quintana Roo have drafted a proposal to create the 3rd nationally protected area in the state.  While approval will require further process, including a lengthy study, it’s the first step in preserving El Areolito

 

Protección del cenote El Aerolito. Un importante recurso natural de Cozumel

Las autoridades proponen crear un área protegida para esta zona de importancia ecológica. . .

En virtud de su composición caliza, Cozumel tiene una gran cantidad de cuevas subterráneas o cenotes que se encargan de suministrar mucha del agua dulce de la Isla. Ya que estos sistemas vierten el agua dulce en lagunas y caletas a través de la Isla creando un ecosistema importante y único que, literalmente, no se encuentra en ningún otro sitio en el mundo.

 

Uno de los cenotes más importantes de Cozumel es El Aerolito y en fechas recientes llamó la atención en virtud que los ambientalistas han propuesto que se apruebe una legislación para que esta área sea conservada como Área Natural Protegida (ANP). En la actualidad el Estado de Quintana Roo sólo cuenta con 2 áreas protegidas, y se espera que  en breve El Aerolito se convierta en la tercera.

 

Se tienen reportes que El Aerolito tiene una longitud a 68 metros o 223 pies. Ya que en el área se mezcla agua salada con dulce, se han logrado documentar singulares formas marinas que incluyen 23 especies de equinodermos, nuevas variedades de esponjas y casi todos los grupos conocidos de invertebrados.

 

De hecho, en el año 2004 a German Yáñez, conocido instructor en espeleobuceo y habitante de la Isla, le fue atribuido el hallazgo de una estrella de mar que se creía que sólo habita en agua salada. A la fecha German Yáñez ha pasado casi 30 años formando y llevando buzos de cuevas a través de este microsistema único y frágil.

 

Este sistema de cuevas que ha sido estudiado por buzos dedicados al espeleobuceo en todo el mundo, ha sido comparado con “una replica natural del mar a 3,000 metros de profundidad, en total obscuridad”; esta importante área no cuenta con un reglamento que limite el total de visitantes ni tampoco protege las especies de su extracción. Muchas de las criaturas que ahí habitan están completamente ciegas o carecen de pigmentos debido a la ausencia total de luz.

 

Diversos grupos ambientalistas, oficinas municipales e incluso la Universidad de Quintana Roo, han redactado una propuesta para crear la 3ª área natural protegida del Estado. En tanto que la aprobación implica un proceso adicional, incluyendo un extenso estudio, este es el primer paso para preservar El Aerolito.

 

Laura Wilkinson

Author at Cozumel 4 You
Laura Wilkinson is the Editor for Cozumel 4 You. An ex-Connecticut Yankee who has called Cozumel home for over 15 years, Laura ran away to the Caribbean years ago, bumped around the islands teaching SCUBA diving, lost some time in Jamaica, and finally stopped in Cozumel for a 2 week vacation that hasn’t ended yet. With a degree in Journalism from a fancy private college she convinced her parents to pay for, Laura writes, edits, and creates the weekly Cozumel 4 You news, promotional articles about the island, and her very own blog, which she finds hilarious. Her long suffering husband, the Fabster, has long since resigned himself to having zero private life, as he’s been involved in her various schemes and plots since his arrival. Proud parents to a variety of rescue dogs and cats, Laura continues to be the bane of her traditional Mexican mother-in-law’s existence, as she muses her way through life in the Mexican Caribbean.

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1 Comment
  1. Ron and Lynne Gallant 4 months ago

    Hola! We love to snorkel and have snorkeled in several cenotes on the mainland. Are there any cenotes open to environmentally conscientious snorkelers on Isla Cozumel? Thanks in advance for your reply!

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