Exploration is the essence of cave diving. The underground, with the possibility of discovering pristine passageways and mapping a new unseen world is what many consider the last frontier of human discovery left on earth.
For anyone familiar with cave diving, names like Ox Bel Ha and Sac Actun are almost mythical, these are the two longest underwater cave systems in the world and are located in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, concentrated in the geographical area around Tulum. This is why I moved here, Quintana Roo has around a 1000 kilometers of reported cave passages, and still a lot left to discover.
My dream of becoming a cave explorer begun in 1998 when I started diving the caves in Bassano del Grappa, my hometown in northern Italy, right at the feet of the mountains, 20 minutes away from some beautiful, deep and cold caves. When you have a dream and put all your energy in it it finally becomes true! I moved to Mexico in 2007, the mystery of what lies beneath and around the next corner was too strong and I made this cave rich area my home and my passion my job…
I have been cave diving since 2001, and exploring since 2009 when, trying out my first brand new side-mount harness and loving the feeling of freedom of this new configuration I decided to test it in some major restrictions: I un-clipped the tanks, put them in front of me and easily passed a restriction that would have been impossible in a back mount configuration.
Behind it a virgin passage opened up to a tunnel that a few months later brought me to my first important connection!
Since then I have dedicated most of my time to exploration, pushing myself further and further into the timeless caves of Quintana Roo and I had the luck to participate to the first Expedition in the Mahafali Karst Plain in Southern Madagascar and most of all exploring in the cold caves back home in Italy. With time my skills and experience have grown, as has my knowledge of this incredible environment and my fascination for this unknown side of our planet.
Exploration requires exceptional skills and extreme curiosity, but most of all dedication. If you want to find out what’s around the next corner and you are ready to commit to the training that is needed, understand and accept the risks that are involved, than somewhere there is cave that wait for you to discover it!
Becoming a cave explorer will take a lot of time and effort but will pay you back with the ability to venture to never before seen incredible places!
2009 Sistema Xunaan Ha Resurvey and Exploration; the project started in 2009 and in two years brought the cave system to over 50 km of extension. Mauro is responsible for the connections of XH with cenote Palomita, Sistema X-Casel and Sistema Pitch among others. The exploration is still active, getting further inland, looking for a new entrance for an easier access to the upstream End Of Line 11.890 feet from air. Exploration Project Cenote Chan Chemuyil Norte, Chemuyil, Mexico; exploration Sistema Templo, Chemuyil, Mexico.
2010 Exploration Project Sistema Three Holes, Chemuyil, Mexico, Cenote Balan Ak, Chemuyil, Mexico; Sistema Under the Bridge, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
2011 Exploration Project Sistema Lycka, Tulum; Sistema Ek Be, Chemuyil; Cenote Sand Crack, Tulum, Mexico; Cenote Doggi, Muyil, Mexico.
2012 Exploration of Sistema Sand Crack, Tulum, Mexico; Sistema Caterpillar, Muyil; Sistema Doggi, Muyil.
2013 Sistema Sand Crack, Sistema Caterpillar, Sistema Doggi, Sistema Nohoch Pek, Cenote Jaguar House (or XXX), Sistema Chikeen, Sistema Red Dragon, Cenote Iron Monkey, Cenote Drunken Snake, Sistema Murena, Sistema Ek Be and Sistema Xunaan Ha.
2014 Exploring on numerous caves in the Riviera Maya. In October I took part to the first Mahafali Karst Exploration Project in Madagascar, funded by National Science Foundation and National Geographic.
2015-16 Continues the exploration in the Riviera Maya, Tulum area with the discovery of new caves like Galaxians, El Guano, the Nest and numerous others. August 2016 exploration in Grotta dell’Acqua Nera, Veneto.
2017 first explorations with Mexico Cave Survey and Mexican Cave Exploration Project, including the historic part of Ox Bel Ha.
2018 focusing on different Mexican projects and practicing CCR and mixed gas diving for upcoming summer explorations in Italy and Bosnia.
Arizona Mine Exploration, thanks to Michael Oster who fell in love with the wild west and the desert around Middle March pass, with Tombstone as the closest popular city, I had the luck to explore my first flooded mine, the “Missouri” copper mine, at an elevation of 5900 feet/1800 meters and in the middle of the desert this is a pretty unique discovery, a real ‘Time capsule”, a bit colder (13 C/56 F), reduced visibility and with a possibility to explore to a max depth of 100 feet because of gas availability. With hundreds of mines all around the area there must be other flooded ones.
2020-2021 During this period exploration was mainly centered around Xunaan Ha upstream, using CCRs and multiple DPVs we extended the original end of line to six kilometers and explored multiple kilometers of new passages in the System.
In September 2021 we also managed to go back to the cave “Grotta dell’Acqua Nera” in Northern Italy, a project that started over 20 years ago with the friends of GGG, Gruppo Grotte Giara Modon. The cave is beautiful and difficult at the same time, you need three days to set up the exploration in Sump 3 where the cave continues, more in 2022!
To follow Mauro’s EXPLORATIONS closer keep an eye to his Instagram and Facebook pages: