While Tim, Lee, Paul, and James were out in the field collecting water samples for the Cambrian Foundation’s Central Florida Springs Project, Josh and I spent the day with Amy and her college professor, Dr. McShafferty, catching Dragonflies and Damselflies. Dr. McShafferty loves bugs. He wants to collect specimens from the Orlando area before returning up north, so Amy brought us to the Wekiva River and then through the Wekiwa Springs State Park today.
Armed with nets and canoes we paddled down the river swatting at just about every moving fly in sight, but I think Dr. McShafferty had the best luck getting them out of all of us; I’m just surprised that we didn’t fall out of the canoe! We must have been a funny sight to the canoes that were whipping by us on the river, especially on the way back when I was steering and had problems keeping us in the middle of the river, planting Josh face first into the mangroves way too many times. We saw all sorts of wildlife on our trip (some a little closer than expected!) from turtles basking on tree stumps to them swimming 30 feet below us on the river bottom. Although the hot sunny sky began to turn stormy, we went in search for more in the Wekiwa National park after catching flies on the Wekiva River. We even saw a sinkhole the size of my house, which was pretty cool, that had formed due to the karst topography of the area.
Back at Amy’s office Dr. McShafferty’s knowledge continued to astound us as he told us about the differences between families of flies. Our night ended with a trip to Rock Spring and then Wekiwa Springs to unfortunately lessen a population of armored catfish that had become too large for the park’s liking…Before we left, though, Artie showed me how to swim down near the entrance of a cave so that the flow from the entrance shot me up between two canyon-like walls and then onto the surface; the flow was fast and it was definitely cool. But not as cool as the black bears we saw on our ride home through the park!!