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Catfish Caves of Acatlán, Oaxaca

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:55 am
by bekateen
Elliott, W. R. (2019). The Catfish Caves of Acatlán, Oaxaca. Reviving cave surveys from long ago. AMCS Activities Newsletter, 42, Dec.
2019 [May 2020]: 22-30.

Features: Rhamdia reddelli ... ng-ago.pdf
Northern Oaxaca’s Municipio Acatlán de Pérez Figueroa has at least three blind catfish caves. These interesting caves were explored and studied in the 1970s, but the survey notes were lost or forgotten. Based on rediscovered notes and plots, I recently drafted the maps of Cueva del Nacimiento del Río San Antonio (CNRSA) and Cueva de Las Maravillas. A third cave nearby, Cueva de la Finca, needs re–mapping.

The three catfish caves are in a low sierra south of Acatlán, with elevations of 100–650 m, but it is not named on maps from INEGI, the Mexican mapping agency (see area map). To the northwest the range is called the Sierra Tlacuiloteca. Two rivers flow through the pass containing the small town of Las Maravillas. Río Cosolapa and Río Juan Sánchez both flow from near Almolonga to near Acatlán, then through a pass to join at La Junta. The Cosolapa then turns south and empties into the northern part of Miguel Alemán reservoir 16 km away (off the area map). Río San Antonio resurges on the south side of the ridge near Campo Chico at Cueva del Nacimiento del Río San Antonio, and flows southeast for 6 km to the northeastern side of Miguel Alemán. So, the Cosolapa/Juan Sánchez and the San Antonio rivers are separated by a ridge, but in karst there could be groundwater connections, and the rivers are close together in the La Junta area. During floods the waters may mix in the valleys. This situation may be the ancestral source of catfishes and crustaceans that
colonized the local caves. Another resurgence cave, Cueva de Almolonga (Juan Sánchez), is 10 km northwest of Actalán, but no catfish have been reported there yet.

Included here are two cave maps and two area maps from my GIS project to help readers understand the area’s hydrogeology. The northern part of the area is covered by the INEGI 1:50000 topographic shapefile, Vicente Camalote E14B68, and on the south by Tierra Blanca E14B78. I used WallsMap and QGIS programs for regional mapping. I hope this article will inspire cavers to map Cueva de la Finca, add to CNRSA and Las Maravillas, and search for other catfish caves.