Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#4: Troy Spring - 8/26/11

To break up the 3 hour drive home from sturgeon field work on the Ochlocknee River, MR and I stopped at Troy Springs so I could check it out / rinse off after a day of handling fish and even doing some fish surgeries (inserting tags). This spring was the polar opposite of the crowded and crazy Ginnie and Ichetucknee springs. It is hidden off in a state park with very few signs. Granted, it was also the middle of the week rather than a weekend, but we only saw two other people at the park. I jumped in right away in my running shorts and sports bra (no bathing suit, no problem) and had the entire spring to myself. The water level was about 4 feet lower than usual because of the drought, but it didn't take away from the amazing 75 foot visibility all the way to the bottom. I wasn't able to free dive all the way to the bottom but did explore around for a while. I dove through an underpass in the rocks in the middle right of this picture and got immediately pushed down the spring run by the strong current flowing into the river. Because the water level was so low, I missed being able to explore the steamship wreck but will definitely go to this spring again to SCUBA dive and check out the wreck.

#3: Manatee Spring - 8/24-25/11

At the end of a long, hot day on the Suwannee River tagging sturgeon fish, we walked down the boardwalk to the spring head. The spring run is closed to snorkelers, divers, and boaters because there are often manatees in the run. Unfortunately we did not see any, but after a 10 minute walk down the boardwalk, the view of the crystal clear spring in contrast to the tea-colored Suwannee River we were floating in all day was absolutely amazing. KS, MR, PT, and I all jumped in and were instantly refreshed by the chilly (~68-72 degrees F) water. There were a few fish and quite a bit of algae on the major wall going down to the spring (the one to my right in the picture below) but the force of the water coming out of the spring was amazing. The spring opening is in 25 feet of water and as you approach, you have to pull yourself really hard to move against the force of the water. When you let go of the rock near the opening, it sends you shooting to the surface, so I wasn't as upset about not having my neon yellow fins. We swam in the spring for 2 days in a row... I was sure to bring my mask on the 2nd day for maximum time swimming around. Thanks to PT for the pictures :)

Bubbles caught on the algae.

Checking out the opening to the spring.... about to be pushed to the surface by the force of the water.

#2: Ichetucknee Spring System (Blue Hole Spring and Cedar Head Spring) - 8/20/11

No pictures unfortunately but definitely going back to Blue Hole Spring (~10 minute walk down the boardwalk). A local taught me to free dive down the wall of the spring and save enough air/energy to make it down to the bottom (45 feet), swim around the cavern for a while, then shoot up to the surface. Opening to the spring is only a few meters across but opens up to a big cavern @ about 30 feet. Saw a baby snapping turtle and tons of fish (tiny minnoes, have to figure out what they're called) that I could pick up with my hands. Hang out within 1cm of the surface. Wore 3mm wetsuit. The way the light shoots down through the opening to the spring would make for amazing pictures. Stopped at Cedar Head (right next to the parking lot) on the way out but it was more crowded and pretty shallow. Not nearly as dramatic as Blue Hole and only had a few shallow crevices to poke your head into... worth the walk out to Blue Hole!

#1: Ginnie Springs System (Ginnie Spring and Devil's Eye Spring) - 8/14/11

Didn't bring my SCUBA gear so just free dove the two springs. Started off in Devil's Eye. Amazing visibility but tons of divers and people floating on tubes, air mattresses, pirate ships, and everything else imaginable that could be floated down a river. Dove down to cave entrance but too full of people everywhere to get a good look. Over at Ginnie, there were also tons of people but I was able to dive down to ~6-8m and swim into the cavern and out another opening right next to the entrance. I'll have to go back and take pictures underwater once my camera gets shipped down.

Getting ready to dive in @ Ginnie Spring.

Warning to divers...

1 year, 33 springs

Moving to the middle of northern Florida, I was pretty sure I'd spend my weekends running away from the city to escape to the beach. Central Florida does NOT sound conducive to diving. BUT my first weekend here, I discovered the springs and have set out on a grand adventure to SCUBA dive or free dive all 33 1st Magnitude springs in Florida in 1 year.

Springs are categorized into 8 different magnitudes, ranging from the most flow (1st) to the least (<1 pint per minute, 8th Magnitude). First magnitude springs are those that discharge > 65 million gallons per day: (

I was going to just organize my pictures in iphoto, but instead was inspired by Amy's world travels blog (way cooler...) and started this blog basically so I can keep track of all the springs I've been to and have a digital scrapbook sort of thing. Plus it's documentation of my challenge and a way to record my dives and thoughts about each different spring. Feel free to follow along if you want to see some of the world you're missing by staying above sea level (spring level?) :)

Start Date: August 14, 2011
End Date: August 14, 2012

4 down, 29 to go!