Tuesday, May 07, 2013

On the Silver River

I had thought that most of the rivers and spring runs produced by the very large freshwater springs in Florida were immune to drought. But they are also influenced by periods of low rainfall. We witnessed this one our trip, most dramatically on the Silver River which appears full cloth from the mouth of the tremendous Silver Springs.

We found that the level of the river was down by about two feet from our last visit here. But the spring is so vibrant and produces such a tremendous volume of water that the current remains very powerful and the river very deep. It was still chock-a-block with wildlife and even at low ebb is still an impressive waterway.

I was happy to see that the feral monkeys are still thriving along the wild state park property. These rhesus monkeys are here because of various escapes from old movie sets and a monkey habitat that was once part of a private park somewhere along the river. Various enterprising monkeys took off on their own, and a large number--from what I've read--got loose after a hurricane destroyed their enclosure. Thus, the area is now home to several hundred feral monkeys. I've been told that the State of Florida has done studies on the impact of this invasive species on the local environment and found them largely harmless inhabitants and have chosen to leave them alone. I like that.

Like most of the other major springs in Florida, Silver Springs was destined to end up in the hands of the public, which is as it should be. It always bothered me that so many of these great places had been locked up in private property. But the old parks that had been built around these magnificent springs began to decline in attendance when Disney sucked all the air out of the room. Silver Springs was one of the last to give in to the fading audience of idiot tourists but is, at last, being transferred to state ownership.

We almost immediately noticed that the Silver River was running lower than normal.

Strange to see so much root system exposed.

As you can see here, the water was at least two feet below normal.

We saw a large group of feral rhesus monkeys. The young one at the bottom had just caught and eaten some kind of bug, so the other one was interested as they searched for more bits of mobile protein to ingest.
This guy was on the bank, same side as the monkey group, about forty or fifty feet down from them.

Even in low water the Silver River is an impressive spring run.

Some extra color.

More color.

I'm not exactly sure what these are, but I think they may be snail eggs.

The exposed root system and series of cypress knees looked like a picket fence arranged to protect the tree from the flow of the river.


Neal Hock said...

Great pictures, Bob! I trust you had a good trip.


James Robert Smith said...

We had a wonderful trip. We hated to come home. Sometimes you have such a great time that it seems a shame to allow it to end.

MarkGelbart said...

I can tell you for sure one place in Florida I'm never going to visit--Disney World.

That monstrosity ruined one of the most beautiful areas of Florida.

James Robert Smith said...

Good for you.

We did take our son there when he was quite small. But I wouldn't want to go back.