Saving Sacred Portals

Mexico’s lush Yucatán peninsula is like an enormous sponge strewn with thousands of holes, all connected to a vast underground freshwater system. To the ancient Maya, these sinkholes, or cenotes, were more than a vital source of water: They were sacred portals to the underworld. These exquisite formations are still an important water source today, as well as popular tourist attractions.

Unfortunately, pollution, climate change and tourism are taking a toll that left unchecked could endanger this unique feature of the Yucatán landscape.

Carolina researchers hope to reverse this decline.

With funding from a National Geographic Bold Ideas grant, Patricia McAnany and Dylan Clark from the College of Arts & Sciences are steering a collaborative project geared toward educating Yucatec school children ages 11 to 14. The goal is to channel their enthusiasm and emerging social consciousness into advocacy for conserving the cenotes and the subterranean aquifer.

Read the complete Carolina Story…


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