Morrison Springs, Walton County

Morrison is still very clear, despite the rain. The water level is up a bit. There is a bit of oil and gross stuff on the surface in the shallows but the spring basin has good visibility. There is a large (3′) dead stinky carp floating by the swimming dock. The turtles are having a buffet.

PSA: If you throw a dead/dying fish back don’t do it in the swimming area!

Additional PSA: Since last Saturday somebody moved that submerged picnic table into 6-7′ of water which makes me think they were firmly in the jerk category and not the diver-donning-gear category. Cut it out!

Other than that the spring should be really nice for folks to enjoy on the 4th of July holiday!

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Morrison Springs, Walton County

It was nice to see Morrison clear today and a diversity of folks enjoying lots of different outdoor activities: swimming, fishing, boating, having a barbecue. That’s how the spring was meant to be enjoyed. The water coming out of the cavern was a cold 68F, as usual, and shoots straight at the SCUBA dock. You can feel a distinct change in the water temperature as you get onto the downstream side of the basin, where the warmer water mixes with the cold spring water. This is a bit of a different pattern from about ten years back when I used to spend a lot of time in this spring.

Not the best photo (my phone is old & in a waterproof case) but it was clear all the way to the cavern entrance

There was a lot of debris on the surface from the storm a couple of days ago, but nothing gross, aside from a few oil blobs. There was a really strange smell, not coming from the water, but kind of hanging in the air around the swimming dock and cypresses on that side of the spring. It reminded me of paint thinner. My first thought was of course “shake-n-bake meth lab”, but I hope there was a more mundane (and non-water-polluting) explanation. In my opinion it would be really dumb for anybody to have their meth-making stuff in this heavily-used area that has a decent county law enforcement presence and a lot of security cameras. This is obviously a nice park for families, so I wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression, the smell was weird though.

I saw a shellcracker about the size of my head near the buoy on the downstream side of the swimming area. There were a few other smaller sunfish, a couple of suckers, and the usual small fish in the shallows.

At first I thought kids had been being jerks by submerging this picnic table. Then I had sandy shoes and found that it was a great place to sit and get clean feet before getting out. It would also be ideal for divers donning heavy gear and cumbersome fins in waist-deep water.

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After I cleaned my shoes and was leaving the water I found this mature Florida apple snail. Check this out if you don’t already know why Florida applesnails are awesome! This is the first live large FL applesnail I have ever found.

Morrison Springs, Walton County

Morrison still doesn’t look great. It has been raining on and off this week. The water has gone down a bit, but it is still rather tannic and there is a lot of pollen, fallen leaves, and a bit of trash floating on the surface. I didn’t see any evidence of clearing near the vent at all today. Somebody commented that the viz is 7′.

River622

Misty Morning at Morrison Springs

Despite all the rain last night, and earlier in the week, Morrison is surprisingly clear. I was expecting muddy Choctawhatchee River water. That doesn’t mean it won’t invade later today as the river continues to rise, we’ll just have to see.

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Mist, not murk, the water is quite clear

Since I was expecting murk I didn’t actually get in, but I think the water is at least as clear as it was last weekend. I think it may be a bit better in fact, because the training platform is clearly visible from the surface at both the shore and from the entry dock. I couldn’t say about the fine particles observed in the water column last week.

It is very misty down in the river bottom this morning and the boardwalk is slippery in places, so use caution.

Wekiwa Springs, Orange County

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.