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Why is this diver burrowing into the bottom of this mini-lake? She’s literally disappearing into the sand and gravel of the water’s floor.
Only debris and the occasional bubbles from her breathing tank are visible.
She’s part of a project largely funded by National Geographic to dive into the sacred pools of the ancient Maya.
“Our exploration team discovered this upwelling – it’s an underwater spring – upwelling –and it provides this magical experience because it’s located on the bottom of a very large crater and you come down, down, down, down into this large crater and the bottom is this boiling mass of sediment that’s actually being rolled and boiled it’s almost like a natural lava lamp.”
“Went in over the lip of the crater and descended down into the bottom and I didn’t want to have any interference with the water that was already in the pool and so it required a little bit of digging and frankly it was extremely low visibility down there – but below the actual base of the sediment there’s about one and a half meters [1.5] more space – the water coming out of the bottom of this spring coming into the pool is chemically actually quite distinct from the water in the pool.”
But this is just the beginning. The dives also revealed clues to past life here and a first for the country of Belize. Scientists discovered several fossil beds around sixty to ninety [60 – 90] feet below the surface including femur bones the size of a bowling ball. They also found tusks and pelvic bones. These are the first recorded fossils ever found in Belize.
“And we left those in place we only removed a few small fossils so we can actually determine how they fossilized or bored and they’re definitely fossilized so we know they have to be of a certain age but were they here were these mega fodder present during occupation by humans about twenty thousand [20,000] years ago or fifteen thousand [15,000] years ago or are they much older.”
The dives were made in several pools in central Belize earlier this year in an area known as Cara Blanca. The researchers found evidence that the eight  pools of the twenty five  they studied are likely connected by underground passages.
Principal investigator Lisa Lucero says the major goal is to look for archeological remains underwater.
“Because the Maya considered openings in the earth; caves, water bodies as portals to the underworld of Xibalba and because the thousands of caves that have been found have offerings, ancient Maya offerings, we just knew that there’d [ there would] be offerings at the bottom of the pool so we came with the goal of trying to dive to look for these offerings.
Though they didn’t find offerings on the first dives they did find ceramic sherds in a pool near remains of a Maya building constructed around eleven hundred  to thirteen hundred  years ago.
Lucero says there is no indication this area had many residences but rather was likely a pilgrimage site with Maya travelling here from hundreds of miles away. Because at least one of the pools was found to be about two hundred  feet deep, and littered with trees and silt - more sophisticated diving equipment is needed for future dives and Lucero believes there are more significant Maya offerings at these depths.
The research is being conducted under the auspices of the Belize Institute of Archeology and the scientists plan to return for more exploration.