Monday, March 20, 2006

Rainbow Springs State Park, Part 5 of 7

On March 13, 2006, Mary and I visited the Rainbow Springs State Park, which features the headsprings of the Rainbow River. The park's 1,595 acres contain at least 11 distinct, natural communities: mesic flatwoods, sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, sinkholes, upland mixed forests, basin swamps, depression marshes, floodplain swamps, and hydric hammocks.

This is a first magnitude spring complex, fed by four main vents. Its average flow is 465 million gallons per day. These waters run to the Withlacoochie River, through Lake Rousseau, and finally into the Gulf of Mexico.

"Although none of the vents are large enough to allow exploration," says the brochure, "large underground conduits likely exist that feed the springs from the surrounding karst (limestone) supported aquifer." Here, beneath reflections, a fish glides past a vent feeding water into Rainbow Springs. Except for compression this is as-is out of the camera....

This is a wider shot of the same area. The vent is the swath of gray by palm reflections.

These waters teemed with fish and a turtle that meandered into view. Thus far I have been unable to identify the species of either.

The "boiling" of the spring raises tiny puffs and leaves circular patterns beneath the fish. A movie of the effect (22 seconds, 10.5 MB) is here. (Dial-up may be unable to handle it; I didn't even try to view it at home. My library's DSL connection churned for several minutes before confirming that I'd uploaded the video correctly.)

I haven't yet identified this lone flower blooming atop the spring.

Waterfalls to come.


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