Once again the very friendly gate attendants at The Springs community in Longwood, Florida welcomed us with smiles. Clive, Dan and the others made sure we were settled in properly and made us feel quite at home.
All the gear was assembled, carried down to the waterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s edge and then a walk through was conducted by the dive team and the science team. It is imperative to do a walk through on land prior to entering the water to coordinate tasks. Practice will help ensure the team to collect the samples effectively and efficiently.
Today the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mission was to collect water and bacteria samples. The team was split in to two groups; group one was the divers and group two ran water analyses on the samples the divers retrieved. Katy and Bob explored the basin of Sanlando Springs, checking out what type of aquatic life was present. They found turtles, bass and catfish (fewer then other times weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gone to Sanlando but still quite a few). The water was shallower than usual because the basin was being drained for cleaning.
Andy entered the cave first through the restriction with his camera. Once Andy was in position to take photos, George entered the cave followed by Renee. Upon entering the cave it became apparent that the line was broken. Andy then exited the cave to get a reel to repair the line before any further penetration. Meanwhile, Renee and George started the sampling procedures in the cavern, sample station number one. Once the line was repaired Andy descended into the high flow passage. It also became apparent that the flow was way down from previous dives here which was fantastic! Sample station two, situated in the middle of the high flow, presented more of a challenge but went very smoothly as well. The containers are filled with surface water so they will sink as the divers descend. At each station the surface water and air bubbles must be removed from each container prior to sampling. In the high flow the divers were braced on the rocks to maintain position. George and Renee working together were able to pass the sampling containers to each other where they are placed in a mesh bag for transport. All three divers arrived at station three with little difficulty and proceeded to collect water samples. In addition to being the deepest sampling station, station three is located near where the water enters the cave and the flow is quite intense. In addition to the normal sampling Andrew was able to captured three additional samples in special collection syringes. These samples were later used to conduct a special carbon content analysis. At this point the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthumbs upÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ signal was given and the team ascended to the cavern area where Andrew collected bacterial samples during the safety stop. After an additional five minute safety stop in the open water, the divers surfaced and passed the samples to the surface team.
On the surface, the samples were analyzed for ammonia, nitrate, sulfide, and iron concentration with field kits, and several other parameters using a Hydrolab (e.g., pH, dissolved oxygen, and salinity). During this time George, Bob and Renee went to Palm Springs which is in the same community. Water samples were collected there at the vent and afterward a crayfish was spotted in the basin and was kind enough to pose for photos. After all of the sampling was completed, and after an appropriate surface interval, Andy escorted Bob on his first dive into this spring.
Following the debriefing, the team divided in order to prepare for the next day at Wekiwa Springs. Thank you Seminole Scuba for donating fills for the expedition again. Bill, Laura, Will and the rest of the team always welcome us with open arms and we appreciate you.