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Biodiversity and Beauty in Blue and Naked Springs

Naked Springs Vegetation

Naked Springs Vegetation

Blue and Naked Springs are two of the healthiest springs.  Whenever I go there, I am happy to see so much diverse vegetation.  The grasses aren't cloaked in algae and there is plenty of habitat for birds, turtles, and fish.

Blue Springs Grasses

Blue Springs Grasses

When I was snorkeling in the springs a couple of weeks ago, the water was moving quite fast. June and July were the rainiest months on record in the area around Gainesville and these rains must have done a lot to replenish the aquifer and spring after the recent drought.  As I was snorkeling along the run, the grasses were being pushed by the water and beams of light illuminated them.  They were so green and healthy looking, which made me feel better after having seen so much algae in other springs.

Blue Springs, Swimming into the Mystery

Blue Springs, Swimming into the Mystery

I followed the fish and turtles and made an image with a slower shutter speed to evoke the sense of motion I was experiencing being led deeper into the mystery of this underwater world.

Blue Springs, Turtle Emerging from the Vegetation

Blue Springs, Turtle Emerging from the Vegetation

It is so important for turtles and fish to have places to hide and find food.  Healthy vegetation is critical in the headsprings and runs.  Yet, in so many places thick unsightly algae hovers on the surface and clings to the grasses.  This algae ends up blocking out the light and destroying native plants.  In Blue Springs and Naked Springs, the water is still relatively clear and a lot of biodiversity remains.

Blue Springs-Fish Swimming Amid the Grasses and Reflections

Blue Springs-Fish Swimming Amid the Grasses and Reflections

The green in the images is all from grasses at the edge of the springs.  The water is a brilliant blue, and any cloudiness is more from people swimming and kicking up the sand than anything else.  In the heat of a Florida summer, there is nothing better than a dive in a constant 72 degree spring.

Blue Springs Run

Blue Springs Run

There are fallen trees, white sand, grasses, and interesting colors all along the run.  The narrow corridor leading to an electric blue at the end kept calling me onward.  To swim and dive here is always to discover something new.  It was especially interesting how the water bent reflections, turning the tree into a hook with an arrow on the end.  Reality is never as solid as we think. Underwater, shapeshifting is the norm.

Blue Springs Latticework Shadows Along the Run

Blue Springs Latticework Shadows Along the Run

The hand of man is evident here, but only from above.  There is a walkway over the springs from the park to the Santa Fe River, so people who don't want to snorkel the run can still appreciate its beauty.  The walkway cast interesting shadows in the sunlight.  When the traces we leave are shadows instead of pollution or scars from drilling, our impact can be absorbed and the springs can still sustain us.  This owners of this park have done their best to protect this Florida jewel that has recently been purchased by the State of Florida.  Hopefully, the park system will continue to champion its preservation.