We saw many springs, divers, entrances to two big sinkholes (Little and Big Awesome Sucks), many turtles, some alligators, a wood stork, a cattle egret, a hawk, a great blue heron, and some buzzards, as well as many gar and other fish, more cypress knees than you can count, and one very old cypress tree, just below some less than scary shoals.
Perhaps most importantly, nobody was in a hurry to get anywhere. Everybody paddles leisurely, took in the sights, and socialized.
At one of our Friday morning Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) zoom calls, Jen Lomberk, the WKFL chair, asked Suwannee Riverkeeper to organize an outing while we would all be in Gainesville for an annual conference. The nearest Suwannee River Basin River is the Santa Fe, so I called on Doug Jipson of outfitter Rum 138 to shuttle us, and Merillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) to guide us. See also the pictures Merrillee sent.
Waterkeepers Florida consists of all 15 Waterkeepers of Florida,
Waterkeeper is the generic name that includes Riverkeepers, all licensed by Waterkeeper Alliance. Suwannee Riverkeeper and St. Marys Riverkeeper are Waterkeepers of both Florida and Georgia.
Eleven WKFL members showed up (some with more than one representative), which is about the usual percentage for the annual gathering. Some of them had never seen a blue spring before. We went to Gilchrist Blue Spring, Devil’s Eye Spring, Ginnie Spring, and numerous more, between Rum Island and FL 47 Ramp in Gilchrist County Santa Fe River Park.
Actually, we were going to put in at Rum Island County Park, but it was mysteriously closed that morning. So we put in at Merrilee’s private river access.
When we got to Rum Island, the work at the park was obvious: the incredibly ostentatious orange barrier at the swimming area.