Thursday, May 1, 2014

Turtle Party 2

The muffled sound of a distant waterfall fills my ears even before I see the twinkling raindrops in the sky. Each drop gently dances on the surface of the spring water, forming unpredictable yet perfect patterns above. The sky disappears, and I find it impossible to awake from this dream-like state as I hover under a glistening blue blanket and turtles glide overhead

Once the blue grabs you, it does not let go. The cool spring water engulfs you, surrounds you, and pulls you into another world. Yesterday, the flood stage Santa Fe River pushed its tannic water through the floodplain and up the run. The once crystal clear 1/4 mile run to the river is now tinted brown, but the springs are flowing strong, pumping water so crystal clear, you would swear the turtles have invisible wings. 

The high water in the floodplain creeps above the water lilies that usually reach their long, green leaves out of the water. Once-emergent plants are completely submerged and areas where cypress knees reside and feet once trekked high and dry are covered in water deep enough to explore. 

In the still waters, the dim light is more peaceful than eerie. Dark turtle shadows relax at the surface, but as I exhale, a few move swiftly towards the shelter of a fallen tree. A once above-ground forest is peacefully drowned and transformed into an extension of spring paradise. 

We made our way around the island at Gilchrist Blue Spring, swimming near Little Blue, and coming out near the wooden fence just downstream of the Naked Spring run. The high waters reduced the flow in the usually fast-flowing spring run, making the trek up to Naked less of an upstream battle. For the second time, the turtles have completely mowed down the hydrilla, transforming the spring from a lush and swaying paradise of green invasive plants to a clear-cut and wide open underwater field. Snails dot the sand, logs, and vegetation like jimmies on an ice cream cone, and turtles graze like hungry cows in a field. They are as happy as kids in a candy store and so am I.

The dancing raindrops above lasted only long enough to say a brief hello and fill our ears with my favorite sound. Dancing in the rain has nothing on swimming in the rain, but perhaps dancing while swimming in the rain is the best. I think only the turtles and mermaids would know.

Check out my Facebook album and Instagram profile for more photos of the turtles :)

For more information about the turtle invasion at Blue Spring, check out these 2 previous posts: 

It's Raining Turtles
Turtle Soup
…and YouTube videos: Turtle Soup and Two Minutes of Turtles

You can also check out the Santa Fe Turtle Project website

Then, go see for yourself at Blue Springs Park :)

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