Sunday, September 30, 2012

Silver Springs- Part Two

Just before boarding a boat for our cruise around the main springs of the park I espied an anhinga doing what those water birds usually do when on shore, which is drying out their wings. We took our second river cruise around the main spring at the end of our day at the park.  We were informed by the captain of our glass-bottomed boat that there are around 120 smaller springs in the area.  They all form the Silver River- part of the inland waterway which which links the springs to the St.John River and Jacksonville, Florida.  The main spring which we traveled over is 65 feet long and 12 feet high.  In the picture below the bluer area of the water is where the springs are flowing into the river.  Our captain claimed that the water is 99.9 per cent pure partly because it gets filtered by the limestone and gravel in the river.  It provides water for the nearby town of Silver Springs and Ocala-  is also bottled and sold at Walmart stores under the name of Silver Springs.
As we looked through the glass bottom of our boat the water was very clear and we could see at least 40 feet down into the depths of the river. A variety of fish and turtles could be seen swimming among the eel grass.  Our tour guide then pointed out the white crystalline sparkle of the limestone in the river.  Most fascinating were the springs pouring out of the opening of a limestone cave.  I tried taking pictures with little success.  However, the one below can give you an idea of the ledge of the limestone cave.  It is the big splotch of white on the left side of the picture.
I thought that most of the underwater pictures I had taken were quite weird until we visited the Appleton Museum of Art at the College of Central Florida.  Currently on display there is the work of the artist Margaret Ross Tolbert.  When I first saw her paintings I commented to John that they looked like the underwater pictures which I had take yesterday.  Then we discovered that the artist swims in the springs of northern Florida and sketches underwater.  The art museum describes her work as "abstract expressionistic interpretations of our famous springs".  The lush hues of blues and greens in her paintings were exactly how we saw the springs underwater.   Our last river cruise proved to be the high point of our visit to the park yesterday.

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