Otters and Rock Springs

Friday found the team sampling at Rock Springs, another beautiful and spectacularly buggy public swimming hole. Today, there were to be seven divers going in the cave in addition to Tom and I, who would be shooting video outside the cave. At Rock, the flow is tremendous even outside of the cave wear swimmers jump fearlessly into the rock riddled spring. The divers slid themselves in a little more carefully. All the entrances to the water are tremendously slipperly, so extra care had to be taken with entry. The divers goal was to collect samples at four stations in the cave and at the caves mouth. They were also hoping to collect some interesting critters and bacteria. The cave divers entered the cave in two teams, spaced twenty minutes apart. Tom, a videographer, and I entered the water with his camera and tried to shoot some decent footage of the divers entering the cave. This was tricky, since they kicked up so much silt while entering. Shortly after all the divers entered the cave Tom and I gave up on videotaping. The flow was too strong and their were so many swimmers, including one man in black slacks and a button down white shirt swimming underwater quite happily. Tom called him the underwater waiter. Tom and I slipped and slid our way out of the water to wait for Bob to re-emerge after his dive. Once Bob finished his dive, we came to the concensus that we would snorkel down the creek that is fed by the spring and try to shoot more video. Shortly afterwards Tom decided the conditions (lots and lots of tubers and poor vis) were not optimal for underwater footage. Tom, Bob and I, as well as Sandy and Mike, two of the cave divers, began our trip down the creek. We weren’t in the water more than forty-five second before Tom leapt from the water, in some apparent pain yelling “I can’t do it!” He scrambled up some steps as Bob muttered “camera,” and sure enough, Tom returned moments later, video camera in hand, and ready to roll. We embarked again, enjoying the now crystal clear water and the assortment of fish living along the sand and in the grass at the bottom of the creek. The current was so bad we had to stop frequently to regroup. During one of the stops I spotted a strange splash in the distance and pointed it out to Tom, who was still expertly weilding the video camera. He promised to investigate but once we embarked again he was swept past the spot. I managed to stop their under the guise of waiting for Mike who, despite the current, still managed to float at a snails pace. I was not standing there for twenty second before an otter popped up, three feet in front of my mask. I screamed. The otter departed. It was spotted further upstream several minutes later. Unfortunatly, Tom had missed it, and was thoroughly dissapointed. we continued down stream, sighting nothing as exciting as the otter, but we did see some turtles and several enjoyable fish. Eventually the creek opens up into a large swimming hole. Here Tom let me play around with his camera. I had a blast stalking and chasing fish looking for a good shot. After a little while with the camera it was time to return to the rest of the team, who, at this point were done with the sampling and busy packing up. Once everything was all packed, we left to prepare for the long day at DeLeon.