San Diego, CA
Silver Springs Glass Bottom Boats
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© Christine Till
Florida's Oklawaha River Aquatic Preserve is made up of roughly 25 miles of the Oklawaha River system. About five miles downriver of the start of the preserve, the Oklawaha River meets the Silver River spring run. This run is one of the largest spring runs in Florida rivaling Rainbow Spring. It has an average discharge of over 500 million gallons a day. Over three miles of the roughly five-mile run are part of the preserve. The Silver River portion of the preserve is a popular boating and swimming area. However, it has an idle speed boating restriction and no fishing restriction in place.
Much of the Silver River is also a part of the Silver River State Park, a National Landmark and tourist attaction that saw it's heyday back in the 60's - 90's. Its a nice place to spend an afternoon when the weather is dry and not too hot. The big claim to fame here are the glass bottom boat tours. The water is crystal clear and the tour is both fun and educational. More than 90 species of birds reside in this habitat, making this a prime birdwatching area. River otters, beavers, alligators and snapping turtles are sometimes seen swimming through the clear waters.
Over the years, the numbers of guests in the Nature Theme Park have dwindled. Disney really hurt. At one time, there were a couple of dozen glass-bottom boats packed with sightseers; today, just three. And there's one more big change in store for Silver Springs. Later this year, the state will take over, but the glass-bottom boats will stay.
May 18th, 2013
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