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.|
|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.