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New report suggests Taam ja’ blue hole in Chetumal Bay deepest in world

Chetumal, Q.R. — The Taam ja’ blue hole in Chetumal Bay is being hailed the deepest in the world. According to Ecosur-Conahcyt, recent research reveals that its depths exceeds 420 meters below sea level.

The article, which was published April 29, shows the analysis of physical, chemical and geological processes of the intricate karst system of sinkholes (cenotes and blue holes) in the southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Analysis of water characteristics inside Taam ja’ suggests possible underground connections with the Caribbean Sea.

A team of scientists from Investigators for Mexico of the National Council of Humanities, Sciences and Technologies (Conahcyt) and academic staff from its Public Center El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (Ecosur) reported on the blue hole first in February of 2023.

The discovery of the blue hole in Chetumal Bay was made in February of 2023 at which time scientists reported a depth of 274.4 meters, making it the second deepest in the world of its type and the only one within an estuarine system.

However, recent measurements by the research team of this karst structure, which was named Taam Ja’ (deep water) in allusion to the Mayan culture of the region, exceed 420 meters below sea level.

Scientists have not been able to determine an exact depth to the bottom.

The Taam ja’ blue hole has a morphology similar to that of a cenote, but is different from these due to the dominance of water with brackish or marine characteristics and because it is completely submerged.

The research team described by Taam ja’ carried out these measurements with the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth) profiling instrument to understand the characteristics of the water column inside the blue hole.

New report suggests Taam ja' blue hole in Chetumal Bay deepest in world
Scientists now believe the blue hole of Chetumal Bay is the deepest in the world. Photo: ecosur

In addition to the depth measurement, significant variations in temperature and salinity were recognized inside the blue hole. Different water layers and transition zones were also identified.

Furthermore, the water characteristics at the depths of the blue hole resembled those that have been reported in the Caribbean Sea at depths of 0-150 meters suggesting the probable existence of underground connections between Chetumal Bay and the Caribbean Sea through this blue hole.

It is of utmost importance for scientific research to understand the unique geomorphology and characteristics of the Taam ja’ blue hole, as they are closely related to the physical, chemical, biological and geological processes taking place in the karst systems southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Taam ja’ blue hole is part of a system of blue holes within the Manatí Sanctuary-Bahía de Chetumal State Reserve, being the only ones so far reported in the Mexican Caribbean, so its research can provide knowledge and support for the sustainable management of the area.

The structural complexity and physical and biogeochemical processes in the Taam ja’ blue hole motivated interdisciplinary research involving women and men oceanologists, engineers and biologists.

In the article, they report the team is made up of Dr. Laura Carillo Bibriezca, Dr. Teresa Álvarez Legorreta, M. in C. Laura M. Flórez Franco, Dr. Joan Alberto Sánchez, Dr. Óscar F. Reyes Mendoza and is coordinated by Dr. Juan Carlos Alcérreca Huerta.

It should be noted that the significant collaboration of the community guide Jesús Artemio Poot Villa was fundamental for the beginning of the investigations in Taam ja’.

The result of the investigations has generated a sense of belonging and pride among the residents of the city of Chetumal and its surroundings, toward the natural wealth of Chetumal Bay.

Community appropriation has manifested itself in regional culture with the creation of a song dedicated to the presence, history and research of Taam ja’, highlighting its importance as a new wealth for Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico and the world.