Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition Dives into Florida's Springs
The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is three weeks into their 70 day journey. The team is now traversing springs country near the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is said to have the highest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth.
The team plunged into the headsprings of the Chassahowitzka River and followed the river's five mile journey downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, the Southwest Florida Water Management District led a restoration of the headspring that pumped out truckloads of sediment and sand.
A few miles inland, the team ventured into the crystal clear Rainbow River in Rainbow River State Park where the river meets with the Withlacoochee River near the town of Dunnellon. While paddling, the team observed the relatively healthy eel grass which provided a glimpse of what has been lost to algae in the majority of Florida's springs.
The Expedition also visited Manatee Springs State Park. The springs produce an average of 100 million gallons of water daily and helps to provide water water for manatees during the cold winter months. The loss of eel grass is evident in Manatee Springs where the algae is seeming to choke out all other botanical life.
The team had the privilege to swim with manatees at Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, where record numbers of manatees have been congregating to seek refuge from the cold winter waters of the Gulf. Last week, 797 manatees were observed in the region -- an increase of 200 manatees from the previous record in 2012.
Be sure to follow more of the Expedition and where the team heads next with the ways to follow on the right-hand column.