Once again Tom Morris led a fun and educational outing. This time we visited Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs in the Ocala National Forest. On the drive to the springs we stopped so Tom could give us a short lecture on the longleaf pine sandhill habitat. This plant community at one time covered over 25 million acres of the southeastern coastal plain, but has been reduces to less than five percent of its former coverage. Some of the best examples of remaining healthy sandhill are found in the Ocala Forest, including the site we visited.
Salt Springs is aptly named and discharges noticeably salty water. The source of salt is from sea water that has not yet been completely flushed by fresh water from the marine limestone aquifer. We could taste the salt and feel its effect on our buoyancy while snorkeling. We ate lunch with a flock of black vultures, which have learned to beg and steal at the picnic tables.
At Silver Glen Springs we saw the remnants of Native American midden mounds that were quarried away in the 1930’s for roadbed material. We snorkeled in the exceedingly clear water of the main spring and saw bass, sunfish, schools of mullet and saltwater needlefish. Later we hikes back into the woods to a set of beautiful sand boil springs. All in all a very good day.
If you have never seen a sand boil, Silver Glen Springs has one at the end of a short boardwalk. Check it out by clicking on the following link.