The Spring Basin
A four-acre natural pool forms above the deep Wakulla Spring cave. In the basin, swimmers escape the heat with a plunge into the cool waters or visitors gaze into the depths for a glimpse at fossilized mastodon bones and a piece of Wakulla's past.
Wakulla Spring is one of the largest freshwater springs in the world. An average of 250 million gallons of cool fresh water flows daily from its massive cave system. For thousands of years visitors have been drawn to gaze into it depths or simply to seek relief from Florida's heat.
Wakulla Spring and the historic Wakulla Springs Lodge are at the center of the 6,000-acre Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. Nearly 200,000 people visit the state park each year.
A glass bottom boat hovers over the Wakulla Spring basin where visitors can view the fossilized remains of a mastodon resting on the bottom in about 80 feet of water.
As a riverboat travels over the basin, divers head into Wakulla Spring's massive cave entrance to explore tunnels that run underground for miles and to depths of 300 feet. Scuba diving at Wakulla Spring is only permitted for research and scientific studies. As a riverboat travels over the basin, divers head into Wakulla Spring's massive cave entrance to explore tunnels that run underground for miles and to depths of 300 feet. Scuba diving at Wakulla Spring is only permitted for research and scientific studies.
A research diver inspects a fossilized bone from a mastodon's leg in the Wakulla Spring basin. These fossilized remains were first recognized in the basin in the early 1900s by archaeologists. The remains of mastodons and other pre-historic animals in the basin and cave system support theories that the cave was dry at one time during the Ice Age.
Since the 1950s divers and researchers have been exploring the Wakulla Spring cave system to better understand the source of Wakulla's water. The caves and tunnels have been mapped underground for several miles outside the park's boundaries, enabling officials to develop better land use policies near Wakulla Spring.
Divers have discovered the fossilized remains of mastodons and other pre-historic animals hundreds of feet back into Wakulla Spring's cave helping advance theories that the spring was dry at one time and the cave accessible to humans and animals.
Wakulla Spring's large swimming area is a major draw during the summer months, making it one of the most popular state parks in Florida.
At a chilly 70 degrees year round, Wakulla Spring's water offers visitors relief from the Florida heat or takes their breath away. Some visitors prefer to stay at the water's edge.
For more than 50 years, Wakulla Spring's dive tower has served as a major attraction for swimmers, young and old, who are willing to take the plunge off of the high platform. During the summer months lifeguards keep watch over the swimming area.
With a view from below, this is what fish in Wakulla Spring might see as two swimmers take the leap from the dive tower.
Silhouetted against a midday sky, swimmers make their way to the dive tower. The clarity and color of Wakulla Spring's water varies depending on the amount of rainfall. During heavy rains, darker surface water flows into the aquifer through sinkholes, turning Wakulla's water a darker, greenish color.