Volusia Blue Spring

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Manatees in Volusia Blue Spring
Manatees in Volusia Blue Spring. / Rain0975, / CC BY-ND 2.0
The giant Volusia Blue Spring is an unusual natural landmark. The deep blue-green basin over this spring seems to be cut with a knife – there is a deep fissure across the spring where lucid springwater gushes out. One can dive in this fissure up to 38 m deep!

Description of Volusia Blue Spring

The basin above the fissure is some 6 meters deep – but nevertheless, there is seen a bulge and boil on the surface! Spring discharges from the Upper Floridan Aquifer, Middle and Upper Eocene limestone. The taste of water is salty, the temperature – 23 °C.

Volusia Blue Spring. The fissure - cave is visible.
Volusia Blue Spring. The fissure – cave is visible. /
KimonBerlin, / CC BY-SA 2.0

The spring forms a short river which after some 620 m falls in the Middle St. John River.

The area is very picturesque – banks of the spring are covered with virgin forest, there are limestone cliffs along the stream and in the middle – a stream with lucid, bluish water!

Manatees and snails

Volusia Blue Spring is the only place where lives Blue Spring hydrobe Aphaostracon asthenes – a small freshwater snail. Here have been observed also 32 species of fish, several species of turtles.

But the most noticeable animal here is Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). This is the main winter refuge for the population of Middle St. Johns River manatees whose number is increasing. If in the early 1970ies in the spring during the winter lived 11 manatees, in 2011-2012 their number increased to 400.

Nature conservation authorities have divided the spring run. The upper part, near the spring, is given to people. In holidays the spring is filled with swimmers, divers, snorkelers. But further down the stream comes the realm of manatees where people cannot swim. Only at the mouth of the spring run visitors are allowed to look on manatees in the water.

The stream of Volusia Blue Spring
The stream of Volusia Blue Spring. /
Paul Clark, / CC BY 2.0

Environmental challenges

Both the increasing number of human visitors and manatees creates water pollution in the spring run. There appear more and more filamentous algae (characteristic for polluted water), water clarity decreases.

Another worrying tendency is the decrease in water amount due to the increased pumping of the groundwater in the nearby cities. If in 1930 – 1980 the output was around 4,590 l/s, in 2007 – 2017 it was just 3,820 l/s.

References

  1. Volusia Blue Spring Restoration Plan, Executive Summary. Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, May 2018. Last accessed on 14th June 2019.
  2. Volusia Blue Springs, Cave Atlas. Last accessed on 14th June 2019.

Volusia Blue Spring on the map

Location, GPS coordinates:28.9475 N 81.3396 W
Categories:Springs, Caves
Values:Geology, Visual
Rating:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
Where is located?North America, United States, Florida, Volusia County, west from Orange City. Springs create a short tributary to the Middle St. John River
Alternate names:“Nature’s Fishbowl” – early name of springs as tourist attraction
Cave depth:38 m (explored)
Type:artesian springs
Average discharge:3,820 l/s

Video of dive in Volusia Blue Spring (360 degrees!)


Greg Hammack, May 2019

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.

Recommended books

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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