The Florida Springs

By Amanda Cotton

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Florida has a not so well kept secret; it is home to some of the most beautiful fresh water environments in the world. Florida Springs and rivers located throughout the central and northern areas of the state offer bodies of water with unusual and colorful floral and fauna. State Parks across the region are home to many different types of Florida Springs, from turquoise blue gushing spring heads surrounded by deep basins to static flow sinkholes filled with tannic water. 

 

The Florida Springs are jewels.  Overflowing with life, the springs offer refuge to a multitude of animals including reptiles, freshwater fish, migrating and resident populations of birds, and local Floridians.  Bright turquoise and gin clear water, the basins of most Springs are surrounded by thick vegetation and exceptionally tall trees, offering visitors a break from the concrete jungle located only a few hours away in cities like Orlando and Miami.

Florida’s aquifer feeds the Springs and rivers, branching throughout the state in elaborate underground tunnels ranging from one hundred to four hundred feet below the surface. This system nourishes the state, providing fresh water to millions of residents in all areas of Florida.  Much of the water travels down into the system by way of rainstorms passing through Georgia and territories to the north. The relationship between these two regions can be unpredictable and tumultuous. When too much rain passes through the area north of Florida the rivers and Springs often get flooded, causing damage to local areas of central Florida and closing parks for weeks on end; this has a negative impact on the local community and businesses. The concerns do not end there however, as the demand on the water supply has increased with the population boom in Florida. Over the last few decades the water levels have plummeted, leaving many to wonder if the Florida Aquifer will be able to survive long into the future. 

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The first line of defense for this important water system has been divers who frequent the area.  With the scenic underwater cave system offered by the aquifer, divers from around the world travel to dive and train in Florida caves. These divers have seen first hand the impact and damage done to the systems and are vital in gathering information and imagery to help in efforts of protection and preservation of this water source.  

“Florida Gems”, a project documenting the beauty of Springs and the connection many people have with them, first began in the early months of 2012. This visual art project focuses on the beauty found deep inside the underwater cave systems by featuring the photography of cave divers, images of models freediving in basins and river ways, as well as imagery that melds the topside and underwater worlds together.

In an effort to share this underwater world with those able to help protect it, the imagery from “Florida Gems” has been used at local art exhibits, city council meetings and more.  It is the hope of the project to show those in positions of control how vital and delicate this ecosystem is to the health and well being of the state of Florida.

With an approach of educating their audience, projects like “Florida Gems” hope to empower individuals and companies to stand up for protection of the Florida Springs and aquifer system.

With protection and attention to the current issues they now face, Florida’s Springs can continue to flourish and shine as the gems they are.

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Ocean Geographic Explorer (OGX) is a diving adventure resource with a special focus on marine photography and ocean conservation. Our content is divided up into six primary categories: Travel, Sea Science,  Equipment, Photography &Video, Conservation, and Lifestyle. We endeavor be a portal for people with all levels of interest in the marine environment  to learn about and become part of a community of like-minded ocean lovers who enjoy sharing their knowledge of and experiences in our fascinating ocean world.

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