To the perceptive eye, one can tell that there is something unusual about the underwater images shot by underwater photographer Anatoly Beloshchin. These photos reveal a concealed underwater river in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula named Cenote Angelita or “Little Angel”. If diving is your thing, this unique location should be in the bucket list of dive spots you should visit.
The photos of Beloshchin may make it appear as though the divers are suspended in the air above a little creek, but the images were in fact shot entirely in an underwater cave made from collapsed limestone bedrock called a cenote. A cenote is actually a sinkhole with visible rocky edges that contain groundwater.
It is usually found in the Yucatán Peninsula and occasionally in the nearby Caribbean islands. The word cenote is derived from a word used by the low-land Yucatec Maya, which refers to any area where groundwater can be found.
The river itself Cenote Angelita or “Little Angel” is some kind of illusion due to a phenomenon known as a halocline. In such an occurrence, different levels of salinity form into layers due to a variation in density. Beloshchin says that the submerged river is comprised of fresh water to about 29 meters, where it switches to a 1-meter layer of hydrogen sulfide, and from there the entire cave bottom is filled with saltwater from depths of 30 to 60 meters. Therefore in reality, the Little Angel is actually a dense layer of saltwater resting at the bottom of a cave.
Here, as you go deeper, the water goes from pure to salty. At 30 meters deep the water is pure; then at 60 meters deep it turns saline. A few meters before you arrive at the bottom of the cave, you see the Little Angel River underneath. It only seems like a river, but as explained above, it is actually just a layer of hydrogen sulphide.
Beloshchin describes the unusual phenomenon.
“We are 30 meters deep, fresh water, then 60 meters deep– salty water and under me I see a river, island and fallen leaves… Actually,the river, which you can see, is a layer of hydrogen sulphide.”