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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.
Map of the site
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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 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 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.
- Chassahowitzka Solution Holes (or Chassahowitzka #1). Last accessed on 26th May 2019.
- Chassahowitzka River Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Plan, August 2017. Last accessed on 26th May 2019.
Wonders of Florida
Florida is the tropical paradise of the mainland United States. Over the last century, it has experienced fabulous changes, turning from a forgotten, swampy badland into a densely populated and rich land. Highlights of Florida include the architecture of the late 19th and 20th centuries as well as its giant springs and caves.
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.
Wonders of the United States
The United States of America is one of the largest countries in the world and offers a wide array of diverse attractions: many are unsurpassed in the world. Highlights of the United States are cliffs, canyons, and rock formations, several impressive downtowns of cities with numerous skyscrapers as well as a rich array of geothermal features, and the giant forest of California.
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 the 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.