Sample! Snorkel! Survey!!

DeLeon Springs State Park

Renee and Artie sampling at Rock Springs.

Looking for cave entrance at Witherington Springs

Terrence prepares to further explore DeLeon Spring

Future scientist helps with sampling readings.

Curious observers learn about water quality.

Terrence, Artie and Renee gathered at 0730 this morning to begin a busy day. As part of the Central Florida Karst Project we gather water samples weekly at several local springs to include Rock Springs, Witherington Springs, Wekiva Springs and Sulfur Springs. The sampling went without a hitch as usual. We had an additional mission to accomplish while at Witherington Springs. After a several minute hike through the densely forested area and taking water samples, Terrence and Artie donned their wetsuits. We wanted to have a look in the spring to see if there was a possibility of a cave entrance. They entered the water very cautiously at it is a precarious entrance. The water seemed to be fairly clear at this point. Terrence and Artie snorkeled around for a bit while Renee scanned the area continuously for Alligators from the bank. Only one gator was seen and it was a small one. Further investigation may be required at this site due to the slight stirring up of the fine bottom composition.

Once the sampling was completed, Andrew met us at Wekiva Springs. We then were off to Seminole Scuba in Lake Mary, Florida to pick up our tanks we left the previous day for fills. The tanks were retrieved quickly and we departed for DeLeon Springs.

Again, the park greeted us warmly when we stopped by the ranger station on the way into the park. We have added this spring to our sampling schedule. We began the sampling today before the dive. Several park visitors came over to inquire about our research. It was enjoyable to educate the public about water quality and its importance. One of the kids seemed quite enamored with the hydrolab and how it worked. The sampling was completed and we prepared for another dive in DeLeon Springs.

Today’s mission was to collect in-water samples and then go beyond the grate and explore further. Renee conducted the primary tie-off and entered the cave followed by Terrence then Andrew. Sampling was accomplished first in various strategic locations within the cave. Once finished we tied off the sampling bag and continued to the end of the line. We tied off to the existing line on the grate and made our way through. Barely past the grate the flow picked up tremendously. It was a bit difficult passing through the restriction due to high flow and poor visibility. The cave passage continues to be covered in this “hairy” bacteria. Beneath this layer is often a thick layer of white clay. There is very little solid rock on which to place the line. After exploring a little over 100 feet, we turned the dive leaving time for survey. This proved to be quite a challenge again because of the flow, decreasing visibility and lack of places to steady yourself while obtaining data. However, we were able to complete the necessary tasks for this dive. Once back at the cavern we conducted a deep safety stop. We had no decompression obligations but performed a five minute safety stop on oxygen at 20 feet after being jettisoned from the cave. After removing equipment and stowing it in the vehicle we conducted a few more studies with the hydrolab and called it a day.

Tomorrow, Andrew and Terrence plan to continue exploration in Rock Springs.

Team
Artie Ahr
Andrew Pitkin
Renee Power
Terrence Tysall

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