9 Simple Tips for Visiting Florida Springs According to an Environmental Educator

 

Springs are the visible feature of an extensive underground aquifer system. Geologists estimate that there are more than 900 springs in Florida, representing the largest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth. Beneath the surface, groundwater continuously travels from areas of recharge, or replenishment. As groundwater accumulates beneath the surface, the water table rises and the subsurface water-pressure, or the hydrostatic head, increases. Groundwater pushes along the hydraulic gradient toward areas of discharge. Under pressure, groundwater is forced to the surface through natural openings in the limestone bedrock, creating springs of flowing water.  With all of this going on under the ground we at WaterVentures thought it was important to compile a list of tips to follow when visiting these unique Florida treasures.






Why are there so many springs in Florida?

The reason why Florida has more springs than any other state (and most other countries) is related to the state's geology, weather, and subsurface water flow. Florida is underlain by an extensive series of geologic formations which contain very porous marine limestone near the land surface where Florida's aquifer systems occur. Limestone formations in Florida are more porous than in many other areas, and they can hold and transport more water, making the regional Floridan aquifer system one of the most productive freshwater aquifer systems in the world.

 

Bring Your Gear

Some parks do not have visitor centers where you can rent snorkels, masks, and fins. Trust us- you will want to have such items if you decide to go swimming. The springs offer such natural beauty that should be enjoyed, so make sure you have your gear.



Spring Temperatures

Jump in and enjoy some of the Sunshine State's refreshing natural freshwater resources! In Florida, springs are typically 72 to 76-degrees all year long. Springs may seem colder in the Summer and warmer in the Winter, but that's due to the air temperature. A stream carrying the outflow of a spring to a nearby primary stream is called a spring branch or run. Groundwater tends to maintain a relatively long-term average temperature of its aquifer; so flow from a spring may be more refreshing than a summer day, but remain unfrozen in the winter.






Check Before You Go

Some state parks are only open on the weekends during the colder months. Some parks are open from sunrise to sunset all year long. Other places are only open on Saturdays and Sundays. So make sure to check and see what days and times the springs are free to enjoy

 

Weather or Not

There are two main seasons in Florida: the dry season and the wet season. Winter brings Florida the dry season that is perfect for being outdoors. Between December and May, make sure you have warm clothing and a dry suit if you plan on swimming in the spring. Or, at the very least something warm to wrap yourself up in once you get out of the water. Remember, the water seems more temperate in the winter due to the cooler air temperatures. Summertime brings on the wet season in Florida. Rain and thunderstorms are frequent in the afternoon, and sometimes it rains all day.

Weather is another factor responsible for Florida's many springs. Florida receives between 30 and 100 inches of rain per year. Rainfall becomes slightly acidic through interactions with gases in the atmosphere and soils, and over millions of years, this somewhat acidic rainfall has percolated downward into the subsurface and has slowly dissolved underground limestone. Springs occur when subsurface pressures force water up through an opening to the land surface. The combination of highly porous limestones that can hold vast quantities of water, combined with relatively high rainfall amounts and subsurface water flow, are responsible for the occurrence of so many springs in Florida.

 

 

Follow any rules the spring has

Whether it’s jumping into the cold fresh waters of a Florida spring, floating down a river, or exploring the depths below, there are many opportunities for you to enjoy Florida Springs. In some springs they ask that you swim in certain areas or refrain from touching the bottom, this is to prevent the disturbance of the natural ecosystem. With the amount of visitors springs get each year these precautions help reduce the impact people have on the habitat. Pay attention to the signs posted in the swimming areas and only swim in the designated swimming areas.

 

 

Don't Leave Trash Behind

When the water in our rivers, lakes, and oceans becomes polluted; it can endanger wildlife, make our drinking water unsafe, and threaten the waters where we swim and fish.

 

Bring your reusable mug from home to the park, approximately 58 billion paper cups are sent to America's landfills every year.

 

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle)- Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Keep a refillable water bottle on, and take advantage of refilling stations around the parks.

 

Help reduce waste by not taking a plastic bag into the parks. Instead, bring your reusable bag, tote, lunch box, or cooler for your items to help eliminate plastic bag waste.

 

Do not throw your trash away! Think about what you bring in.  Check to see if it can be recycled or composted in the park you are visiting. If it cannot, try to take it home. It is often far more accessible to recycle near your home than in rural park areas. If you do not spot a recycling bin wait until you are home to toss your recyclable items in your bins- this is to say you have them at home.

 

Even if it's a gum wrapper or a cigarette butt, please dispose of it properly!




Don't Feed Any Wildlife

It's dangerous for wild animals to associate people with food because they can become aggressive and dependent upon people, this is one of the essential tips you can follow.

 

 

 

Be aware of your surroundings

Upon our many visits to different springs around Florida, we have seen alligators, snakes, horses, buffalo, birds, manatees, turtles, and mermaids to name a few of the amazing things there is to look around Florida Springs.

 

 

 

Use this as an educational field trip  

There is so much to learn from the signs and facts to the types of springs and more.  

If you are visiting with children, encourage children to spot words and letters on spotted signs along the trails. You can turn it into a game- “Who'll be the first to find the letter /a/, the word /the/”etc. Read a sentence and have your child follow along with their finger to your reading.

 

 

 


Resources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/travel-interests/tips-and-advice/9-tips-to-remember--traveling-national-parks/

https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/things-to-do/attractions/discover-natural-springs-florida.html