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tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
Hey guys,

I just got back from Florida and thought I would share my dive with y'all. No spearing this time out, but still a readable story ;). I only went for 4 days, and hadn't planned on getting to do any diving because my main objective was to be the best man in my bud's wedding (poor soul). Still, I thought I would bring some of my dive gear anyway - you just have to ;). Since I was packing light, I only grabed a shorty and a my pair of hockey fins (sporasub cruises). Each day I hoped that the ceremonial mumbo jumbo would end early enough to allow me the chance to go jump in the water, but alas, with every insignificant decision requiring 14 opinions from 14 unqualified opinion-givers, I found myself dry at the end of every day. Finally, on the day my plane was scheduled to take off (14:30), I woke up early and decided to try to take in an early morning dive. I woke my friend's brother-in-law (whom I was staying with) and talked him into taking me to a local spring for an hour or two before racing me to the airport. He wasn't crazy about not having tanks, but having been an avid bubble-blower, he knew how to equalize and would suffice as an adequate dive buddy for the day ;) (so long as I didn't push the limits). The spring entrance is located in a 10-foot deep pool, and drops down 80 feet where it takes a 90 degree bend into darkness. When we got to the spring we saw many manatees grazing in an area not accessible to divers. We thought it would have been nice to see the big boys, but in truth, my main objective was to get a chance to feel some depth. After feeling out the area with a series of progressively deeper dives, I was able to confidently reach the bottom. There was a "don't go past this point or you will likely wind up dead" sign at around 60 feet deep. The sign was covered with a thin layer of algae, and many divers had started a list of names (scratched into the algae with their fingernails) of the folks who had been there. I thought I would add my name to the list, and after completing my best underwater penmanship headed up for air. When I was half way to the top my exit suddenly underwent a solar eclipse. Four big manatees had motored over to the public area and were all looking down the entrance at me. I hit the breaks.....stunned at their girth. These boys were bigger around than my refrigerator. The rule in the springs is "don't touch the manatees"; so I decided to approach slowly and see if they would kindly step aside. Finally they shifted enough to allow me a seam to squeeze through along the side of the entrance. In the following 1/2 hour of so, the four manatees swam with us. From all the video footage I've seen of these beasts, they would always hold still on the bottom - very inactive. But these guys were hauling a$$ all over the small pool; doing barrel-roles and leaving a wake on the surface. Finally, the three biggest returned to their grazing grounds, but the small one stayed to chat a bit longer. I made a series of shallow dives and held on to a fallen log. The manatee would approach every time and get his eye to within inches of mine. Then he would just hold there, looking at me, until I had to surface. I think he might have even been teasing me for having to make 5 surface intervals for each one of his :D. I swam right up until the last possible moment, and had to change in the car on the way to the airport. Barely made the plane, and found myself driving home in the snow 4 hours after swimmin in 72-degree manatee water. I know you blue-water spearos encounter big critters all the time, but I don't. Quite an experience......one this Wisconsin boy won't soon forget.



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Very cool, Ted. :D Glad you could experience the critters that enforce the no-wake zones. :blackeye No, seriously.. they're cool creatures. Aquiles and I have actually seen one out in the ocean while spearing. We swam w/ it until a bigger hammerhead convinced us to swim w/ him. :D

Thanks for sharing!


Im dont really understand what your talking about. By the looks of those photos it seems that you are diving in a pond or something, the water colour is more green then blue. Is a spring found inland of the ocean and if so what sort of vis do you get there. It seems pretty cool to ba able to dive in 80ft of calm sheltered water.


Yep, that's exactly what the spring was like. The whole pool was no more than 50m by 50m (surrounded by a tropical forest). This was essentially the beginning of a river...finally flowing to the Gulf of Mexico (if I remember correctly). The spring is 120 feet below at the bottom of the hole. Very unique dive site....want to build one in my back yard :D.



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Hey that was great place I went there last weekend. It helped reforce my choice to get into freediving a lot. They would swim up and do the samething to me, just stare right into your eyes for long time. :D

BladeRunner OUT
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Wow that sounds like the ultimate deep diving spot. A sheltered 50m by 50m pond with 120ft depth. Im not sure if anything like that exists in australia. Are these unique to the US and are they common or is this one of only a few. Tell us more about it have you taken a photo underwater ie a photo looking straight towards the bottom.


I guess there are a handful of these gems in Fla, and a few more scattered throughout the states; they aren't that common. Nevertheless, there are many deep, fresh-water sites in the States; many are man-made. In Wisconsin, we have a flooded quarry called Lake Wazee. I have yet to go there (probably this summer). I think it is around 500 feet deep, and usually has 80+ feet of vis. I know Jon has been there. Maybe he could confirm these numbers. Jon?

Here's a couple links to follow to learn more about the springs in Florida. I was at Blue Spring. There are some photos (doing the site no justice imho) at the scubadiver site.



Wow 80ft vis in a lake thing are different in the states thats for sure. Our lakes here do have deep water but man the vis rarely gets over 5ft. Sounds to good to be true, wait a minute what sort of water temps are in your lakes. Thanks for the info it has added a bit more knowlege to my small brain.

Springs in Australia

There is at least one spring in Australia, it's called Mataranka Springs, and is full of the most crystal clear water imaginable. There is an area about half the size of an olympic swimming pool (from memory) and apparently the water in it gets replaced every 3 minutes or so, a totally phenomenal flow rate.

I think that the water enters the ground in New Guinea or something, flows underground and finally emerges in N.T. where the spring is. There are a number of other smaller springs in that area as well.

When I went there in 1988 it was free to swim around in, but I think that it might have changed by now.


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We have Piccaninny ponds in South Australia
which are deep and clear - but i,m not sure if it is still legal to dive there.
also as nebian said Mataranka Spings In NT and some others I dived a couple in the territory very clean water and also big Barramundi at one I hand fed a big barra with freshwater Mussels I got on bottom only3m or so deep there also Gregory river west of Mt Isa is clear in dry season but shallow ineresting diving - but spearing is not legal
Regards Peter

Big Barra take me there please. But being in the NT there is probably Big Crocs too, whatcha reckon.

Yeah Andy mate, there is a big range of freshwater caves in SA, really deep... they have lots of aciddents with scuba because the water is so clear, they exceed their limits.
Lake Wazee

Lake Wazee is an old iron mine that they let flood 20+ years ago. It is the clearest lake in Wisconsin.

It goes down around 370'. It is hard to find some of the drop offs to get past 230'. 230' is easy to hit and I have had 60'+ vis at that depth while diving there many times. There are a few fish in the shallows, but it is mainly a deep clear lake used to train deep divers- trimix, rebreathers, ect.

Lake Michigan is much closer and has better diving. There are more fish in it and something like 1,000+ shipwrecks. When I started diving in Lake michigan, 20+ years ago, we never got more than 8-10' of vis. About 10 years ago we had these little zebra mussels come over here from Europe- in the ballast tanks of cargo ships. They have cleared the water up tremendously.
We never have vis of less than 30' in the summer and I have measured out over 80' of vis on the wrecks in the wintertime. I did this with a fiberglass tape measure. Water temps are usally cold, but we can get some warm temps in August. When we have a prolonged storm with winds blowing out of the east we get a build up of surface water on the west end of the lake. I have seen 70 degree water temps down to 93' in August. Of course, it was back to 39 degrees at 94'!:(

There are some old iron mines up by Fred that go down over 500' and have very good vis. Maybe he could mention something about them.

One last thing on Lake Michigan. I have seen schooling balls of fish, Aelwives, on some of the shipwrecks. They look just like the bait balls that I have seen in the ocean. It's really cool to watch the salmon circle around these bait balls and go flying through the center to snag a mouth full of fish. You almost feel like your diving in the sea.:D

Don't get any bright ideas...

Originally posted by Jon
About 10 years ago we had these little zebra mussels come over here from Europe- in the ballast tanks of cargo ships. They have cleared the water up tremendously.

As a biologist, I must step in here and say that this is NOT a welcome change to our lakes. Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are destoying native mussel populations by outcompeting and smothering them (attaching to their shells). Additionally, their shells are like little razor blades, and with the potential for their population densities to climb over 10,000 per square meter they are responsible for destroying many public swimming areas and clogging intake pipes for city water systems. The negative list goes on....

I know that my friend Jon is aware of these impacts, and that he doesn't support the spread of these buggers....I just had to jump in the conversation since he failed to mention that they were uninvited ;). True, zebra mussels may be responsible for increased visibility in a few areas, but at waaayyy too high a price to our natural resources.
This is all very true. Unfortuantly, some local divers, whom Ted also knows, have gone ahead and moved these little guys, bucket at a time, into other lakes in the attempt to "clean" them up.

From a wreck diving prespective they are very damaging to all of the shallower wrecks. Many wrecks are now so covered with them that they cannot be identified. They are slowly moving down to the deeper wrecks and covering them as well. I have seen them as deep as 165' on some of the wrecks. The wrecks deeper than that are still ok- for now.:(

They will do quite number on your suit, or bare hands, if you bump into them. We used to use vulcanized rubber drysuits around here in the past for scuba diving, but have now switched other fabrics because the mussles will slice right through them.


Does anybody ever freedive in Lake M.? Are there spearos up there? Can you shoot the salmon? Those wrecks sound cool as hell. Any in the 40-70 ft range with shootable fish on them? What about walleye, lake trout, ect.? Please tell us more (and pics would be too cool)!!!!!

Scott T.
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