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Ichtucenee springs/Santa Fe river and a bad video

    Today, rather than watching a mindless video, I decided to explore a
couple of state parks today to see what they had to offer. Both are about 30
miles away from my apartment. These parks had loads of plants but where both
quite different. I bought a state park's pass for a year and the pass has
printed on one side a nice pic of a lush bed of many species of aquatic
plants below the water and a canoeing family above, a pic of Rainbow springs
about 30 minutes away. Haven't been there yet.
    The Santa Fe river has a good deal of pennywort and it looks like H.
vulgaris to me but I could not find any flowering. It's not H. verticillata
though. It's about 1/5th the size of that and it is doing very well
submersed. The pennywort was nicely packed like folks have imagined using it
for a foreground, about dime sized leaves, about 1- inch or so off the
substrate. I saw a lot of Mic umbrosum submersed growing in fast flowing
water(0.2 to 0.5 meters/sec) along with it.
The water here was coffee colored, tea colored would not come close
enough......you can see about 3-4 inches depth max, not much at all. Not the
nicest looking swimming water in my opinion. Lud repens, Crinum americanum
all over, Eleocharis baldwenii, more hyacinth at the end near the sink than
you'll ever want to see, a good deal of Nuphar (Spatterdock). A few other
weeds I could not ID but I'm getting better quickly at figuring out what
these plants are. 
     The Ichtucenee springs were a real treat. Imagine floating down a plant
tank tank 6 miles long. That's really about the only way to describe it.
The spring fed river that flows into the Santa Fe, is crystal clear water
72F, no algae, nice white sand, about 1-6ft deep, 6-30 ft wide, lots of
fish, small turtles, and of course more submersed plants than you could ever
see in a tank in one day.
And guess what? There happened to be a nice old phosphate (PO4) mining
operation right at the head waters of the spring. Now it's a ravine pit and
part of the park. Now I did not test the water for CO2 or PO4, but I'd bet
they are both sky high.

The park allows folks to take inner tubes down the river and they port you
back up every hour or so. So you float down this 6+ mile shallow plant
filled river and enjoy the ride and scenery. Not a bad way to see how many
of these plants live nor cool off on a hot summer day. No mucky swamp water.

 Lots of Sags, Vals, Mayaca, Ludwigia, Crinum, Hornwort, Pennywort, Lizard's
tail, Lobelia, Micrantherum umbrosum, Salvina here and there, Potamogeton,
Najas, and I'm missing a few I'm sure.
The plant beds were pretty dense, nice white sand bottoms, fair amount of
wood and organic mulm along the edges, good current, 100% water clarity
contrasted with the Santa Fe river. Both park systems had loads of
driftwood. You can only look and take pictures, which really is a good
One of the only places I've been where they try actively to conserve the
aquatic plants and tell folks to leave them alone since they help the
ecosystem and enrich the beauty of this fun ride down the waterway.
They have a nice display detailing each plant at the headwater.
The critter count: 4 snakes, 4 croc's, 2 wild Turkey, 3 deer, 7 turtles,
some really big spiders. Not bad bugs at either place.
Well that's 4 places down, 22 to go within less than an hour's drive.

BTW, since both places are only 30-40 minute drives, I still got back in
time to watch that mindless video:-) You can have your tanks and see it in
the wild too.
Tom Barr