Monday, March 26, 2012

Prehistoric Drift

Blue Springs is deep. The spring flows from a dark opening about 70 feet deep. So much water flows from this one cave that a river instantly forms. I slide into the spring from the upstream platform in Blue Springs State Park for what I think will be a drift snorkel to a second swim/snorkel platform a half mile down-stream. As soon as I put my face in the water I am transported to another time.

Giant submerged trees instantly created a prehistoric looking view, and the first fish I encountered completed the scene. A male and female gar hung in the protection of an intact submerged oak. The four foot fish hovered together in the large branches and slowly left upstream, together, when I got too close. Jeremy Wade did a River Monsters episode on these fish, so I was little nervous.

I turned into the current and drifted downstream. I looked to my side and found that I was surrounded by large gar. The fish allowed me to approach slowly without retreating. I sensed a confident assurance as I looked into the eyes of this predator. A kind of calm confidence. A kind of knowledge. It seemed to know that it had a mouth full of teeth, and that it could do some damage if provoked. The gar tended to not get too excited on my approach and really didn’t move much. This gave me the opportunity to interact with incredibly ancient looking fish.

Algae draped aquatic plants and branches to complete the prehistoric scene. It looked like an aquatic diorama at the Smithsonian. Schools of gape-mouthed mullet scoured the bottom in unison, and the huge gar continued to hang on the edges in the cover, waiting to pounce.

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