I didn’t actually get to swim at Wekiwa Springs State Park this morning because apparently a 4′ alligator had taken up residence in the swimming area and was hiding under the retaining wall to evade removal.
However, this is the first report from a non-Panhandle spring and it was very pretty anyway!
The Pure Florida blog has a nice little video, so you can see what it does look like underwater at Wekiwa Springs.
The spring originates from a fissure-like vent at the base of the hill and fans out into a relatively flat swimming basin that appears to be 5-6′ deep throughout most of the downstream portion. There are deeper pockets, especially around the vent.
Visibility was excellent this morning and the bottom was clearly visible from all parts of the walkway around the spring.
Apparently this spring stays at 72F, a bit warmer than the Panhandle. Due to this warmer water there are some exotic fish that have colonized the spring. While exotics are generally detrimental to the environment, it was still cool to see them because I wasn’t expecting them! There were a number of plecos (sailfin catfish) that were as long as my forearm and I saw a pair of flag (Festivus) cichlids. There were also TONS of mosquito fish and other pretty little fish that I would need to be in the water to ID. Overall I would say this is a nice spring if you like looking at pretty little fish and don’t mind crowds of people during the active season.
There were quite a lot of turtles and a great blue heron too. The heron caught a small pleco and had some trouble dispatching it, but the fish finally went down.
I can see where this spring might have visibility issues when there is a lot of rain, or perhaps accumulate a lot of algae in the summer or when there is a drought, so it would be really awesome if a regular spring user here would start giving us reports.