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Chassahowitzka Springs

Chassahowitzka Springs
Chassahowitzka Springs, Florida. / TimothyJ, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

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 into these tunnels which are filled with very clean, lucid water.

4.2 out of 10 stars 41.8%

GPS coordinates
28.7154 N 82.5762 W
Location, address
North America, the United States, Florida, southwest of the Citrus County, in Chassahowitzka River and Coastal Swamps, Chassahowitzka village
Alternate names
Chassahowitzka Solution Holes Group
Artesian springs
Average discharge
4,360 l/s (sum of all Chassahowitzka Springs), 2,945 l/s (Chassahowitzka Main Spring, 3.)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Description of Chassahowitzka Springs

There is a whole group of powerful springs at the beginning of the Chassahowitzka River. Altogether 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 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 there 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 by a cave. Next to this short system of underwater caves is one more, somewhat less impressive.

One of the holes in Chassahowitzka Springs
One of the holes in Chassahowitzka Springs, Florida. / TimothyJ, Flickr / CC BY 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 2,945 liters of water per second (3.). 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 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 of 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.

  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.
  3. Jason S. Polk, Aurel Persoiu, Kali J. Pace-Graczyk, Underground Florida: A fieldtrip guidebook of the West Central Florida karst, January 2007. Last accessed on 10 September 2023.

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