Exploring Our Blue Planet

Water is one of our most precious resources. It covers more than 70% of Earth's surface. Fresh water is only about 2.5% of all the water on Earth and not all of that is available for our use due to much of it being trapped underground or frozen in glaciers and ice sheets.

Exploring_our_Blue_Planet_2.jpgStudents locate the oceans on The World felt mat, Caribbean Basin map, and worksheets.

Our students have a long-standing tradition with water, most notably with the sacred cenotes - or sinkholes - found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Most of our students have not visited the gorgeous Caribbean beaches about 30 kilometers away from their school and community. 

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 While identifying the world's oceans, children enjoy playing with animal puppets which represent animals found in the waters.

Below is an excerpt from CENOTES, Dive Guide & Log Book by Underwater Editions 14th Anniversary Limit Edition

The Yucatan Peninsula is a huge limestone platform where water runs through underground caves. Part of this land has collapsed, creating sinkholes called cenotes, which give access to this unique underground system. Thousands of these windows to the water table dot the Yucatan Peninsula, and hundreds are located only in the area between Cancun and Tulum, The Riviera Maya.

Since the 1980's, hundreds of these Cenotes have been explored and mapped by cave divers, and exploration and penetration still continues. Today, the world's three longest underwater cave systems are located in the Rivera Maya:

1. Ox Bel Ha - 129 km

2. Nohoch Nah Chich - 61 km

3. Dos Ojos - 56 km

Although there are so many, only a few cenotes have large enough cavern areas to provide room for cavern diving. A cavern is defined as the area of a cave within the natural daylight zone, and within a maximum of 60 meters (200 feet) from the surface.

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Children from the neighborhood linger at the doorway and enjoy listening in on classroom activities.

More from CENOTES, Dive Guide & Log Book by Underwater Editions 14th Anniversary Limit Edition

More than 40 million years ago the peninsula of Yucatan was a thriving coral reef covered by the ocean. Today marine fossils inside the caves reveal this history. Ice ages caused the ocean level to rise and fall, so that at times the Yucatan emerged, and at other times was flooded. The underground caves were formed during the times the ocean level was low. Rain water mixing with the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere created carbon dioxide. As the Yucatans' ground consists of very poruous limestone, this carbonic acid percolated into the ground, dissolved the limestone and over time carved out huge systems of underground tunnels and caves.

The dissolved limestone dripping into dry cave passages, over thousands of years formed an amazingly beautiful decoration of stalactites and stalagmites. It takes approximately 100 years for one inch of growth. After the last ice age around 8000 years ago, the ocean level rose once again and flooded the cave systems. Caves with ceilings higher than sea level were only partially flooded and an air space remained. Some of these partially air-filled cave ceilings became too thin and collapsed, creating a sinkhole and leaving a natural entrance to the underground river system. This can happen today and will continue to happen.

The Mayans call these sinkholes "Dzonot", sacred well, hence the Spanish word cenote. The Dzonote is the only source of fresh water in the jungle and is also considered an entrance to the mythical and spiritual underworld. 

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 Worksheets are colored in differentiating continents and oceans plus fun with seal pups puppets.

And finally a little bit more because it is so interesting from CENOTES, Dive Guide & Log Book by Underwater Editions 14th Anniversary Limit Edition

Inhabitants of the Cenotes: Remipede - Espeleonectus, tulumnes; Blue Crab - Cangrejo Azul, Cardiosoma guanhumi; Tsucan - Anguilla rostrata; Cenote Shrimp; Sailfin Molly - Poecilia velifera; Cenote Molly - Heterandna bimaculata; Mexican Molly - Poecilia mexicana; Mesoamerican Slider Turtle - Toruga Jicotea, Trachemys scripta; Cave Blind Fish - Ogilbia pearsei; Tetra - Astyanax aeneus; Catfish - Rhamdia guatemalensis; Mojarra Maya - Cichlasoma sysnpilum; Mayan Goby - Gobiomorus dormitor; Ciclid - Archocentruse octofasciatus; Spotted Goby - Lophogobius cyprinoides.

 

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