AGUADA

On the southern side of B’alam Ja Way there is a aguada (limestone sink that seasonally floods) of about one acre. The aguada is filled with a fine limestone marl and is dry during the dry season from March to June. The aguada is mainly vegetated with red mangroves, some of which are 45 foot high and among the biggest red mangroves in the district.

When filled with water at the start of the wet season the aguada is up to 5 feet deep in places but mostly 2.5 feet deep. The water is a deep tan colour from the mangrove leaves.  

In 2011 the aguada was partially surrounded on the north and west side by large and small burnt timber and vigorous thorny vines. This was a result of cutting and burning of the surrounding forest in 2010.

In the 2011 dry season parts of the edges were cleared mainly by the removal of a vine that can reach the top of the mangroves and pull them down. To recycle nutrients and to create wildlife habitat he smaller pieces of vine were stacked in piles and the larger pieces placed along the cenote's edge at the water level when filled. Two areas also had parts dug out about 2.5 feet for ponds to maintain mosquito fish during the dry season.

The material dug out was used to create mud 'islands', and on the western side a landing extending into the cenote, that will be above water level during the wet. Plans were made to plant these with flowering swamp plants, following the lessons learned from the 2011 trials. 

In 2012 dry season further removal of vines and creation of habitat was undertaken. Besides further clearing of the edges, passage ways were cleared into the mangroves through the removal of old roots and fallen timber. The cut material was stacked to create wildlife habitat. This work is predicted to foster the growth of the larger mangroves, provide more wildlife habitat especially for frogs and reptiles, allow more access to light and air movement, and provide passageways for birds and bats. The stacked material in islands may provide habitat for mammals and reptiles, or even nesting sites for birds.

The landing on the western side was covered with stones both to make it stronger and more permanent, but also to provide habitat along its sides for tadpoles, frog metamorphism, and baby tortoises. The stones will also provide habitat for water snails and other invertebrates.

In July 2013 giant bamboo was planted around the edge of the cenote in three places; one on the north-west corner and two along the western edge. Giant bamboo grows to over 40 feet high in optimum conditions and so should become a major landscape feature.

 NE corner during the dry    Middle Pool
NE corner with constructed wildlife habitat including permanent pool. The permanent pools provide permanent habitat for mosquito fish and tilapia.   Middle pool - the pool is more than 5 foot deep and during the dry season develops a layer of anoxic water with hydrogen suphide that precipitates iron oxide. The hydrogen suphide cames from sulphates from underground salt water.
 giant land-crab-Cardisoma guanhumi   -giant land-crab-Cardisoma guanhumi 
Giant land crabs, Cardisoma guanhumi, migrate from the cenote to the ocean to breed at the start of the wet season.   Giant land crabs, Cardisoma guanhumi, migrate from the cenote to the ocean to breed at the start of the wet season.
     
 Cenote middle pool    NE corner artificial habitat
Middle pool - in the center of the cenote is a deep pool with a small mangrove island in the middle. Its origins are unclear but it was probably dug by hunters as the cenote is the only source of water nearby during the dry season.   NE corner with constructed wildlife habitat including permanent pools and piles of branches from cleared vegetation. The weedy trees and vines that overgrow the red mangroves are being removed.
 Red mangove aerial roots