I spent the first two weeks of July at training down in Orlando ... Lake Mary actually. The training was great, but it went until 4:30 each day, so I didn't get out exploring as much as I wanted.
Even with a busy schedule, I did squeeze one good afternoon of free diving in Wekiwa Springs State Park. It was one of those stormy summer afternoons where I almost talked myself out of going to Wekiwa due to the lateness of the day and the big cumulonimbussy clouds scattered around the area.
Lucky for me, I ditched the idea of just taking a nap in the motel room or working out in the fitness room at the Marriot.
"What the heck ... the worst thing that happens is I get rained out and if so, I'll just use my smart phone to find the nearest Chipotle" ... my inner negotiator said.
As luck would have it, a big summer thunderstorm pounded the area just before I got to Wekiwa Springs State Park. At the gate, I flashed my Florida State Parks Annual Pass like the high roller that I am (Thanks Mom!), parked quickly and hit the water with GoPro and snorkeling gear.
The park was almost empty and the actual spring was completely empty when I slipped into the cool 72 degree F water. Wekiwa's water gushes from several cave openings at the bottom of a really neat fissure in the limestone. Instead of a big open bowl at the cave mouth like Manatee Springs, Wekiwa has a skinny crack in the limestone with near vertical walls.
I had a great couple of hours diving down into the spring and scouting around in the surrounding basin. Not much to see fishwise, as the area around the spring forms a shallow natural pool that is heavily used by people as a natural swimming pool.
Still, I did see a mix of native and exotic fishes around a boulder not far from the spring mouth. In the video, the large fish that you see is a "Pleco" ... yes, the same Pleco you buy at the tropical fish store when they are 2 inches long.
They are just one more invader of our Florida waterways.
Wekiwa Springs is definitely worth a visit. I only scratched the surface of what the park has to offer in my short visit, so I will have to come back.