Divers in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula say they have discovered the world’s largest underwater cave.
Underwater archaeologists discovered last week that the cave system known as Sac Actun, located near the beach town of Tulum, completely connects underwater to form a 216-mile-long cave.
The Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM), the organization behind the cave’s exploration, has been diving through the underwater network for the past 10 months. They discovered that more than 200 small caves connect underwater to form what they believe to be the world’s largest underwater cave.
Not only is the underwater system an unusual geological discovery, archaeologists are rejoicing at the possibility of studying ancient civilizations through artifacts embedded in the walls of the caves.
Ancient Mayans may have considered the cave an entrance into the underworld. While exploring the cave system, underwater archaeologists discovered human bones and pottery dating back thousands of years. GAM believes that the new discovery could help archaeologists better understand the ancient Mayan civilization.
“It allows us to appreciate much more clearly how the rituals, the pilgrimage sites and ultimately the great pre-Hispanic settlements that we know emerged,” Guillermo de Anda, the director of GAM, told Reuters.
GAM will continue exploring to investigate whether or not the cave connects to three more systems nearby. Explorers will also keep investigating the cave for its unique underwater biodiversity.