Wonder

Tarpon Hole (King’s Spring)

Tarpon Hole or King's Spring, Florida
Tarpon Hole or King’s Spring. / R. Means, Wikimedia Commons / public domain

WorldBlue  In short

One of the best places to observe manatees is around the King’s Spring (Tarpon Hole). This is a very powerful, subaquatic spring which can be accessed from the sea.

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GPS coordinates
28.8819 N 82.5949 W
Location, address
North America, United States, Florida, Citrus County, Crystal River city, in the King’s Bay, below the water south from Banana Island
Springs, Subaquatic springs
Type
Artesian springs
Average discharge
1,213 l/s

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

King’s Bay

In the 240 ha large King’s Bay there are some 50-70 large springs which all together form the second most powerful group of springs in Florida after Wakulla Spring.

These springs all together form a fairly large river – Crystal River which is only some 12 km long. There is almost no fall in the river – at its mouth, Crystal River is… 0 meters above sea level. Thus the seawater can reach up to the mouth of the river in the King’s Bay – the water here is brackish – slightly salty.

Description of King’s Spring

One of the two 1st magnitude springs here is King’s Spring or Tarpon Hole (the other one is the less powerful Hunter Spring). This spring emanates from the bottom of King’s Bay and has formed some 140 – 170 m large and 6 m deep, conical depression. Earlier it was reported that the depression was up to 20 m deep. Water comes from an area in the limestone rock with multiple openings and fractures – these might be consequences of a fairly recent collapse of the spring cave.

King's Spring from above. The spring is in the central-left part of the image
King’s Spring from above. The spring is in the central-left part of the image. Manatees are well visible in the other spring below King’s Spring. / Dolovis, Wikimedia Commons / BY 2.0

In calm weather, there is well visible the boil of water above the spring.

Water from this spring is very clean and the area around the spring has an abundance of life – fishes and manatees.

The spring is a very popular dive site and can get very crowded. Near the spring vent has been installed a brass sculpture of manatee.

Manatees

Springs maintain a constant temperature of water in King’s Bay – 22 °C. During the winter the water temperature in the sea can be somewhat lower and sea animals come then in the warmer waters of King’s Bay.

Group of manatees not too far from King's Spring
Group of manatees not too far from King’s Spring. / Dolovis, Wikimedia Commons / BY 2.0

More than 400 manatees happen to live in the waters around Tarpon Hole – an unforgettable sight! This is the only place in Florida where people are allowed to interact with manatees, e.g. to swim with them. During the winter the access is limited in order not to disturb manatees but during the summer numerous divers are coming here in the hope to meet some manatees and dive together with these calm animals.

References
  1. King’s (or Tarpon or Tarpon Hole) Spring. Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs. Last accessed on 3rd May 2019.
  2. King’s Bay/Crystal River Springs Resoration Plan, prepared by The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, February 2016. Last accessed on 4th May 2019.

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