Chassahowitzka Springs

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One of the underwater channels in Chassahowitzka Springs
One of the underwater channels in Chassahowitzka Springs. / Phil's 1stPix, / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
An unusual natural monument is the group of the mighty Chassahowitzka Springs in Florida. Some of these springs have created natural limestone bridges and short caves under the water. Local boys and many visitors are happy to dive in these tunnels which are filled with very clean, lucid water.

Description of Chassahowitzka Springs

There is a whole group of powerful springs at the beginning of the Chassahowitzka River. All together the Chassahowitzka Springs produce 4,360 l/s of lucid water which is enough to make quite a large river. And so the river goes, adjoined by more and more side streams coming from other powerful springs. Chassahowitzka River is some 8 kilometers long and falls into the sea. The land here is low – at the springs the level of the stream is just 2 meters above the sea level.

Upper Chassahowitzka Springs are highly unusual. Here the force of the water has made amazing arks and caves in the limestone – all under the water. From above here can be seen bright blue deeps with incredibly lucid water. These are the entrances in short underwater caves. One group of such interconnected springs is some 23 meters long and has six holes, each some 0.6 – 1.8 m wide. All these holes are connected with a cave. Next to this short system of underwater caves is one more, somewhat less impressive.

One of the blue holes, the upper Chassahowitzka Springs
One of the many underwater channels in One of the blue holes, the upper Chassahowitzka Springs. / Phil’s 1stPix, / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

One should be very careful while diving here. Unfortunately, from time to time a misfortune happens.

Some 200 m downstream from the first springs is located the most powerful – Chassahowitzka Main Spring or Devil’s Punchbowl. This spring does not have caves, the limestone is even not exposed here and the ground is covered with sand. This giant produces approximately 1,700 liters of water per second. Main Spring has created a bit more than 4 meters deep and 45 by 40 meters large pool. At low water, the bulge of the powerful spring is well visible. Visitors can not dive here – here goes a boat way.

Springs can be well reached from the sea. Thanks to this here live some families of manatees. This river has fewer manatees than, for example, Crystal River, but during the winter, when the spring water is warmer than the water in the sea, some 30 – 40 manatees come and live near the springs.

The not-so-virgin forest

Although the civilization has approached and to some extent influenced these beautiful springs, Chassahowitzka Springs for the most part still are surrounded by the swampy coastal plain forests characteristic for this part of Florida. Over the last decades, a small village with idyllic channels has developed to the east from the springs.

But humans definitely are not newcomers here. The area around Chassahowitzka Springs has been inhabited for many millennia. Thus, in 2013 was completed a project to remove part of the sediments in these springs. In the sediments were found not just waste products from the 20th century but much older items. Some of the oldest are spear points from 6000 – 3000 BC! Nearby have been found prehistoric campsites as well.

The name of the stream comes from the Seminole “place with the hanging pumpkins” – an edible plant. Most likely this was a variety of Cucurbita moschata, now very rare or even extinct.

Today the Chassahowitzka Springs illustrate the controversial ecological state of Florida. Towards the west starts a nature protected area – Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. But towards the east is the realm of modern humans with some pollution, some water intake, and some disturbance. Step by step the water quality decreases and there is even a slight decrease in the amount of water in the springs.

References

  1. Chassahowitzka Solution Holes (or Chassahowitzka #1). Last accessed on 26th May 2019.
  2. Chassahowitzka River Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Plan, August 2017. Last accessed on 26th May 2019.

Chassahowitzka Springs on the map

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Chassahowitzka Springs 28.715400, -82.576234 Chassahowitzka Springs
Location, GPS coordinates:28.7154 N 82.5762 W
Categories:Springs
Values:Geology, Visual
Rating:2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
Where is located?North America, United States, Florida, southwest of the Citrus County, in Chassahowitzka River and Coastal Swamps, Chassahowitzka village
Alternate names:Chassahowitzka Solution Holes Group
Type:artesian springs
Average discharge:4,360 l/s (sum of all Chassahowitzka Springs)

Video of Chassahowitzka Springs


Curtis Whitwam, November 2015

Landmarks of Florida

Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World Resort / Benjamin Esham, / CC BY-SA 3.0 US

Florida is the tropical paradise of mainland United States. Over the last century, it has experienced fabulous changes, turning from forgotten, swampy badland into densely populated and rich land. Highlights of Florida include the architecture of the late 19th and 20th century as well as its giant springs and caves.

Springs

Fontaine de Vaucluse, very high water level
Fontaine de Vaucluse, very high water level / / CC BY-SA 2.0

This category includes natural sites where water, other liquids and/or gases reach the surface of the Earth, including locations under water.

Powerful natural freshwater springs belong to the most fascinating monuments of nature. Even more exciting is the diversity of unusual springs – mineral springs, hot springs, submarine springs as well as the unusual black smokers. Especially beautiful are such natural rarities as travertine, silica or salt terraces created by warm and hot springs and, especially, geysers.

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Florida’s Waters (Florida’s Natural Ecosystems and Native Species)


Taken from the earlier book Priceless Florida (and modified for a stand-alone book), this volume discusses the fresh- and saltwater systems of Florida, including lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; springs; aquatic caves; estuarine waters and seafloors; submarine meadows, sponge, rock, and reef communities; and the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean. Introduces readers to the trees and plants, insects, mammals, reptiles, and other species that live in Florida’s unique water ecosystems, including chicken turtle, barking treefrogs, osprey, herons, bass, crayfish, conchs, cordgrass, and railroad vine.

FLORIDA SPRINGS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Your Guide to the Best of Florida’s Springs, Parks and Recreations


The author started gathering information for this unique guidebook of Florida Springs over 40 years ago. In 1973 Robert F. Burgess began diving and photographing the underwater caves associated with Florida’s labyrinthine freshwater springs long before scuba divers had such things as depth gauges, personal flotation devices, or cave diver training programs. He attributes his survival in what has been called “the world’s most dangerous sport” to the fact that he always stayed within sight of the way out of these underwater sites.

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