October 07, 2010
Blue Springs Florida Dive Profile
Having explored cenotes across the Mayan Riviera, I was excited when my girlfriend, Carolina, told me there are beautiful fresh-water springs to dive near her home in DeBary, Florida.
Blue Spring State Park is as advertised--a crystal clear, 73 degree fresh-water spring. In fact, it's the largest spring on the St. John's River, pumping out 11 million cubic feet of water per year. Yet Blue Spring is best known for being a West Indian Manatee refugee mid-November through March, when diving is not allowed.
Blue Spring is fed through Florida's natural underground aquifer--a river running beneath Florida--and filtered by limestone, which makes the water crystal clear. The water pours from the spring and flows down the spring run nearly a half a mile until it meets the St. John's River and mixes with brackish water.
The spring itself is 120 feet deep and descends at an angle. Open Water divers are allowed to dive to 60 feet with a buddy. However, a Cave Diving certification is required below 60 feet. A map of the spring is available here.
When you arrive at Blue Spring State Park, you'll see there are two entry points--one adjacent to the parking lot and another a short walk up the spring run closer to the spring. I recommend divers walk up the spring run and enter near the spring. When you enter the water, walk backwards along the edge of the spring run with your fins in your hands until you reach the spring. While the water along the edge of the spring run is shallow, the current is strong, so be careful. Then, gear up and start your dive. As you descend, you'll fight the current to enter the spring. Watch your breathing to ensure you don't overexert yourself. Once you enter the spring, watch the ceiling so that you don't hit your head or your first stage. I've heard rumors of divers losing their masks due to the strong current, so you may want to pull your mask straps tighter than usual.
Once you ascend from the spring, I recommend divers let the current carry them down to the entry point adjacent to the parking lot. The spring run is shallow, yet home to diverse wildlife--like the Florida Spotted Gar, South American Armored Catfish, Redear Sunfish, Blue Tilapia, Black Crappie, American Alligator and Snapping Turtle. If you're lucky, you might even see a manatee like I did. Unfortunately, I didn't have my video lights during this trip, so I wasn't able to shoot video in the spring.
Admission is $6.00 per vehicle--limit 2-8 people per vehicle--and $4.00 single occupant vehicle.
Posted by jroualdes at October 7, 2010 04:20 PM