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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here are some pictures of Florida springs that John Parker took and agreed to share (http://www.serc.si.edu/labs/terrestrial_ecology/index.jsp). I think they are from Itchetucknee Springs. Thanks.


See the grasses (Vallisneria or Sagittaria)?




At first glance, I loved this picture. John thought the plants were Vallisneria (?), red ludwigia, and chara. Do you think it (dark green plant to right) is chara or something else???

I had not heard of chara before... It is actually an algae (it is described at the ufl link for aquatic plants of Florida). Often grasses (Vallisneria or Sagittaria) dominate these springs. Whatever it is, it looks like it is crowding out the other species. Overall, I find them inspiring and hope you do too.

Here are some great spring sites and information.

General information on springs with photos and names of some typical plants
http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/guide/springs.html#sprlife

http://www.floridasprings.org/anatomy/life/plants/

Link lists aquatic plants of Florida
http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/photos.html#v

This link even has a movie clip from "The hidden rivers of Florida"
http://www.floridasprings.org/exploration/film/
 

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I love canoeing down that river!!! That reminds me.. it's manatee season again. Time for another canoe trip! Thanks for reminding me how beautiful Florida is when you go just a bit inland!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Church & Orlando- Take some pics and add them to the thread.

I have some old photos from a disposable underwater camera that I'm trying to find and may scan if any are worth contributing. Kurt
 

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^ I will do that. And in honor of the moment, here is a photo of one of my favorite spots along the Chassahowitska river, not very far from the Itchetucknee...


And how about a shot of a mommy and baby manatee?


I am taking my girlfriend to the Itchetucknee probably in a week or two. I just showed her this thread, and now I'm not the only one who's excited. We will take an underwater camera, for sure.

This thread makes me smile. I live in such a beautiful place!
 

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I had a hunch that there were some beautiful and interesting places in Florida but all I have ever seen was the tacky commercial stuff. These photos make me want to go there.

Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I can't wait to see more photos of FL springs, plants, animals, rockscapes, etc.!

I've been digging around trying to figure out what plants are found in FL springs. The Rainbow Springs has the following:

Natives
Sagittaria kurziana (~56%)- strap-leaf sagittaria [dominated upper 2/3s of river]
Vallisneria americana (~24%)- eelgrass
Najas guadalupensis (~13%)
Potamogeton illinoensis (1.3%) primarily in headsprings area
Ceratophyllum demersum (19%)
Ludwigia repens (~0.6%) primarily in headsprings area
Myriophyllum sp. (~0.1%) primarily in headsprings area (some of these species are non-natives)
Chara sp. (~7.7%)
Utricularia sp. (~2.2%) primarily in headsprings area

Non-native
Hydrilla verticullata (~37%) dominated downstream portion, consider invasive problem

Nasturitium sp. (~0.04%) primarily in headsprings area, not sure if this is native or not

This information is from "Florida Department of Environmental Protection 2000. Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve 2000 vegetation mapping project: an assessment of the plant assemblages. Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve, Dunnellon, FL." I've been to this spring. It is really nice but can be really busy.

Silver Glen Spring likely has similar composition dominated by Sagittaria and Vallisneria.

Sagittaria kurziana is widely listed as a dominant of the springs but doesn't seem listed by this name by aquatic plant dealers. I've inquired with Arizona Aquatic Gardens but haven't heard back from them yet. I did come across this listing for it which makes me think it might be listed as either Sagittaria natans or Sag. subulata (do either of these sound right?)

"Sagittaria subulata var. kurziana (GLUCK) BOGIN, 1955
Synonyms: S. kurziana, S subulata var. natans.
Natural Distribution & Ecology: North America.
Physical Description: Leaves 12-20 long, to 2/3" wide, with three longitudinal veins; the central one alone ending at the tip, laterals terminating along the leaf margin."
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/sagittaria.htm
 

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Can people snorkel or scuba dive there? I would assume that if kayaks and canoes are allowed, that snorkeling would be ok. I'm looking to do that in the freshwater springs down in Florida (hopefully) soon, but don't know if I would be allowed in the water.

Do you know??
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Orlando- I can't wait to see your pictures...

Donald- Does this answer your question? This is a picture of me during a ~2hr tubing trip along Rainbow Springs (July 4, 2005)[scanned picture from a disposable waterproof camera]. I actually blew out my eardrum midway while free diving (I must have special eardrums since I dove to only ca. 10-15ft). I guess the ascent was extremely fast but that's another story...



If you check out this link (http://www.floridasprings.org/recreation/), then you can see some nice pictures of people enjoying the springs (wish I was closer). This state park link gives more details of springs at state parks and what is and isn't allowed, directions, etc. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/springs/locations.htm). Generally, yes you can canoe, swim, tube, snorkle, boating, etc. in many springs. Some of them can be pretty mobbed during holidays. I think the activities allowed mostly depend on the flow/size of the spring. Big ones allow all sorts of recreation and small ones are more restrictive. Also, if manatees are around (winter months) then the rules probably change some. They have rules to help preserve the springs but they also permit a great deal of access IMO.

There are other springs in less frequented places. I wouldn't be suprised if there are tourist guide books highlighting many of them. I've been to several ranging from the panhandle near FSU to ones in Ocala National Forest.

Since I'm in Montana now, I don't get to see FL springs very often & when I do visit the state I'm in southern Florida (most springs are in Central & Northern FL). So I ordered "Hidden Rivers of Florida" a nature documentary specificially on FL springs. A couple of movie segments can be downloaded here (http://www.floridasprings.org/exploration/film/). I'll let you know how it is.
 

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I miss the springs in FL! I went snorkeling in Ginnie Springs many years ago. I tagged along with my mom that went with a diving class. There were caves where we went. I also helped a SCUBA diver catch some kind of spotted freshwater flounder.
 

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Can people snorkel or scuba dive there? I would assume that if kayaks and canoes are allowed, that snorkeling would be ok. I'm looking to do that in the freshwater springs down in Florida (hopefully) soon, but don't know if I would be allowed in the water.

Do you know??
I've lived in FL most of my life and been tubing and snorkeling in all those places- they truly are beautiful! These crystal clear springs tend to be more in the middle of the state, as you get closer to the ocean the water tends to be stained with tannins and cloudy from agricultural runoff :(

Yes you can snorkel or scuba dive, but you need to call ahead to check hours and fees, and many of these places are only open seasonally and at times will be closed for environmental impact reasons (like during endangered apple snail breeding season).

You absolutely should do it- tubing is my favorite and it's a great way to spend a hot summer day!!!
 

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Wow, I had no idea that was a FL apple snail although I'm familiar with the kites.

I'm still hoping for some pictures additions...

Kurt
Yep the FL apple snail kite is endangered because the FL apple snail is endangered. :( Those are some great pics!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've been making some progress with my tank. It is made and filled with water. I planted a couple of native plants (Sagittaria kurziana and Eleocharis baldwinii) that I ordered from a native plant supplier in Florida. I have tested the plumbing... Needs a little work. I need to get a less powerful pump and tighten a couple of fittings.
 
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