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Bacab; by Salvador Quiroz Ennis, in Isla Mujeres

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Bacab, as seen from above. Photo credit @jamiejustaddwater

Just off the island of Isla Mujeres, as part of MUSA and inside the Manchones National Park, lies a statue by Salvador Quiroz Ennis. Designed to work with the environment and aid in rehabilitating the reef, Bacab now houses an enormous amount of marine life: from coral, sponges, and algae to lobsters, eel, and fish.

The Artist

Salvador Quiroz Ennis, a Mexican artist, founded the office Concepto M. This business is dedicated to museological design, museography, and the construction of exhibitions and museums.

Trained as an industrial designer (in Mexico and Milan), he has developed professionally in architecture, ecology, and kinetic installation with over 20 years of experience. This has given him the ability to successfully coordinate large-scale projects such as Bacab and 132 yo-yo soy

Salvador is part of the team of artists who formed MUSA. In 2011 Bacab was placed at the bottom of what is known locally as Manchones 1, inside the Manchones National Park. In an area devoid of life and held no appeal to underwater visitors, it is now a habitat for marine life.

The Statue

The statue is based on the legend of Bacabob.

They play an important role because they were born of the gods Itzamna (the creator god) and Ixchebelyax (the goddess who was humiliated, killed, and then revived). The Bacabob were four brothers who had been placed in the four cardinal points of the world to hold the sky up for fear that it would fall. When the world flooded, they escaped.

While each ruled a cardinal point, they have also been associated with the four days preceding the end of the year, the four Chaacks (divinities of rain), or the four Pauahtuns (divinities of wind). Each Bacab possessed an amulet, a turtle shell, a spider web, and two different kinds of shells, each with its own colour.

Because they are the patrons of the last four days of the year, they have gained importance in the ceremonies of veneration. They were consulted about crops, climate, and the health of bees (of which they are the primary protectors) and were the founders of beekeeping (The Mayans knew even then the absolute importance of bees). They were invoked in healing rituals, and because of this, the most famous collection of texts of Mayan healing, "The Ritual of Bacabob", was named in their honour.

For this final dedication of the Bacabob, Salvador made the sculpture to follow in the effort of healing and rehabilitation of the marine ecosystem of the Caribbean.

Entre los antiguos mayas, la tortuga es utilizada como metáfora de la tierra que flota en el mar. Con su movimiento de rotación y traslación, o contoneo, asemeja muy bien el girar de los planetas.

Expresándolo de otra manera, la tortuga es para los mayas la representación del tiempo

Según el Chilam Balam “Luego el cielo caerá, caerá sobre la Tierra, onde los cuatro dioses, los Bacabab están situados, los que evitaban la destrucción de nuestro mundo”

Among the ancient Maya, the turtle is a metaphor for the land floating in the sea. With its rotational and translational motion or swagger, it resembles the planets' rotation very well.

Expressing it another way, the turtle is, for the Mayans, the representation of time.

According to Chilam Balam, "Then the sky will fall, it will fall on Earth, where the four gods, the Bacabab, are located, those who prevented the destruction of our world."

The latticework, made of marine concrete and blocks, allows fish protection from their natural predators and the ability to produce more normally. The material used allows for the growth of corals, sponges, and algae, which are necessary for the feeding and growth of fish.

Sunk in 2011, Bacab was submerged in the second expansion of MUSA. It sits at a comfortable 9mt/30ft, making it ideal for snorkelers and divers alike.


9 meters / 30 feet

Experience Level

Entry Level, Beginners, and all levels of certified divers

Average Visibility Underwater

20-30 mt / 66-99 feet

Average Water Temp

28 C°/ 82F°

Dive Time

45 min (Pareque National Rules)

To view the fish surveyed here with, click HERE.

colaboradores de Wikipedia. (2022, February 7). Bacab. Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre.

La visual de. . .. (2013). Podio.

M.U.S.A. Museo Subacuático de Arte. (2022, April 25). Underwater Sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor.

The Underwater Museum, The submerged sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor, Chronicle Books 2014

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