THE OTHER FLORIDA:
FLORIDA’S NATURE COAST
The average water temperature for most springs is 72F degrees but Weeki Wachee Spring has an average temperature of 74.2F all year. This makes it ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling year-‘round. This is enticing not only for humans but also for the largest manatee winter population in North America. This region is the only place in North America where people can legally swim alongside the manatee. West Indian Manatees are naturally curious creatures and are welcoming and friendly to humans.
Visions of sun-drenched white-sand beaches permeate thoughts of Florida. Millions flock to our state each year for vacation or retirement. So many, in fact, that it has changed the perception of Florida into a concrete jungle with congested freeways and beaches. However, you can still experience the Florida of yesteryear in Florida’s “Nature Coast.”
In 1867, World famous naturalist John Muir described the Nature Coast as “a string of counties studded with emerald-like gulf waters, deep springs and rivers, stretching along the same Florida coast.” Today, this area remains one of the last unspoiled regions of Florida. The western side of the state with rolling hills, beautiful beaches and natural springs awaits you.
Ponce deLeon thought he had discovered the “Fountain of Youth” when he found Florida’s freshwater springs. Over 600 of the purest and cleanest freshwater springs (some of them more than 200 feet deep) occur naturally in northern and central Florida. Millions of gallons of water a day from Florida’s underground aquifer feed the springs. Limestone naturally filters the water making it crystal clear.
The human population is dwarfed by the multitude of wildlife in the area. From the West Indian manatee to the Florida black bear, bald eagles and Florida panther, many endangered species call the Nature Coast home. The coast houses wildlife refuges and preserves including Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, the 157,479-acre Withlacoochee State Forest and the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. It is very important to the people of the Nature Coast to protect the aquatic and forest environments, creating a healthy, stable area for wildlife and residents alike.