Going Green

It had been a while since I had been wet….from diving that is. Friends from North Carolina were leading a trip to a few Florida springs so I decided to go along and spend time submerged with my underwater camera setup. How could it get better than doing my two favorite things in one trip?

Our first stop was Manatee Springs. Being weightless was wonderfully freeing and I felt like myself again after a few weeks of challenging life experiences. The weightless environment lifted my spirits and helped me unwind.

But it was with great sadness that I witnessed the choking algae growing in the spring there. This has been an ever-increasing problem but I had never seen it so thick. From an artistic perspective it was lovely and inviting but what it portends for the Florida aquifers, the water supply for Florida, is not good.

Septic system and sewerage treatment discharge contributes to the over-growth of algae as does chemical fertilizers that filter down into the underground aquifers. Excessive nitrogen levels create the excessive growth and cause reduced water clarity and fluctuations in dissolved oxygen levels which can stress fish and other aquatic life.

The first-magnitude spring produces an average of 100 millions gallons of water daily and playing in the outflow was relaxing and fun as it pushed me around the spring. But the thick ropes of green fibers….they were not fun to contemplate.

Catfish Hotel, or Catfish Sink, provided a beautiful, green covering of duckweed. As much as it is loathed, duckweed is a natural super-filter and consumes large quantities of contaminants. In studies it has been shown to remove 98% of total nitrogen and ammonia content and 94% of the total phosphorus. (Living Green Magazine). But it needs still water to grow in and large volume springs like Manatee would not be good habitat for the plant.

I had hoped for the opportunity to dive beneath the verdant covering to see if rays of light would appear. I wasn’t disappointed. Diving suspended in beams of light took me further into my happy place…even though it meant submerging into less-than-appealing water. Sometimes we must dive into what appears unpleasant to achieve the goals we long for….the outcomes we desire.

Going green is generally a term used to describe planetary stewardship. The algae over-growth is anything but positive and in fact signals that ‘green’ isn’t a good indicator for Florida Springs. Witnessing the excessive algae was sobering to the truth of what we are doing to our water supply.

I left the site relaxed and at peace from diving and photographing the spring and sink but with a nagging sense that we are fast moving over the tipping point. What are we doing to our water planet?

Going Green….thanks to Val H for the title of this photo which inspired the blog title.

 

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