Mesmerizing Photos of Cenote Angelita, an Underwater River


No, you didn’t read the title wrong. Although it might seem like a bit of a strange concept, there is such a thing as an “underwater river,” and Russian underwater photographer Anatoly Beloshchin actually got a chance to photograph this amazing phenomenon.

The “river” Beloshchin photographed is called Cenote Angelita (Spanish for “Little Angel”), and it’s located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Inside an underwater sinkhole/cave called a cenote about 15 minutes south of Tulum, you’ll find this amazing river that flows underwater.

The phenomenon is made possible thanks to a three-foot thick layer of hydrogen sulfide that separates the 100-feet of freshwater at the top from the 100-feet of saltwater on the bottom. And the craziest part is that it looks just like an actual river.

You see banks, trees, mud and leaves strewn about in the same way you would at a normal river you might see flowing through the forest. And although Beloshchin and his buddies obviously had to be in full scuba gear to reach this particular river, they didn’t forget to bring their fishing gear:







Maya Diving describes the exploring Cenote Angelita as “a diving adventure that you will never forget,” and we don’t think they’re exaggerating. Here’s a video that Beloshchin put together in case you favor 24-pictures per second to the 7 pictures above:

To see more of Beloshchin’s photography (both under and above water), be sure to head over to his website. And if this kind of underwater cave photography is particularly to your liking, you’ll want to pay special attention to his Underwater Caves series.

(via My Modern Met via Photojojo)

Image credits: Photographs by Anatoly Beloshchin and used with permission

  • Matt

    Very cool.

  • Dave Reynolds

    Awesome post. I’d love to dive this to check it out.

  • klauskokholmpetersen

    Correction: the murky layer isnt ‘hydrogen sulphate’, that would be sulphuric acid….

    It’s murky because of dissolved hydrogen SULPHIDE, caused by anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.

  • DLCade

    Thank you for the correction, the text has been fixed :)

  • Caroline J

    Thanks, that was bugging me.
    Here, an academic article if you want to read more about this:

  • Ryan

    The video/pictures is actually cavern diving not cave diving. There is still a light source available.

    “Can you see the light? If you dive within the light zone of a cave–the area near the cave entrance where natural light is always visible–you’re in the cavern zone.”

  • Jim

    Still some pretty nasty stuff – H2S is extremely poisonous.

  • Joey Duncan


  • circuitfxr

    What I want to know is why there is fresh water on top of the salt water. Does the hydrogen sulfide layer have something to do with that? Not a scientist or a diver.

  • deede

    Now Sponge Bob’s serial gets sense

  • Alan Dove

    Saltwater is denser than freshwater, and the H2S helps maintain the separation in this system. The general term for a separation between layers of fresh and saltwater is “halocline.” They’re pretty common in underwater caves.

  • Matt Wheeler

    Yeah I was wondering if it affected them any or not, especially since the neck and face are exposed

  • ElaineJHanson

    just as Jacob responded I am inspired that a student can earn $7923 in four weeks on the computer. have you seen this page -+- Bay35.cℴm

  • tyrohne

    Cool but that video is six minutes too long…

  • RIP Johnny

    Johnny was a Chemist.
    A Chemist he is no more.
    What he thought was H₂O,
    was actually H₂SO₄

  • AbrahamSamuel

    Wow! It’s just amazing! I wish I were there.