With shimmering clarity, the Weeki Wachee is as precious as the aquamarine gem the Springs’ color resembles. Named by the Seminole Indians, the moniker is said to mean “Little Spring” or “Winding River.” Best known as home to Mermaids who have entertained audiences for generations, the entire waterway is itself a treasure on many levels, both above and below ground.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a pure vintage Florida attraction, popular since 1947 when former Navy frogman Newton Perry built his underwater theater. Part actors, part scuba divers, part fish, the talented Mermaids deliver delight performing for hundreds of guests every day of the year.
Adjacent to the centerpiece headspring and theater, Buccaneer Bay, the state’s only spring fed waterpark, boasts a sandy beach and water slides for visitors to cool down in its year-round 74 degree water.
Just beyond the Mermaid Theater where the Weeki Wachee surfaces as a first magnitude spring, it becomes a river flowing to the Gulf of Mexico 7.4 miles away. Discharging a steady 117 million gallons of fresh water per day from underground, the Weeki Wachee is known for its stunning beauty. Measured by scientists, clarity at the headsprings is sixty-eight feet (visibility), ranking it with the clearest fresh waters found on Earth.
Kayakers and canoers – whether for the first or the hundredth time – feel a sense of enchantment slipping into the picturesque waterway. As the mild five mile per hour current carries them downstream, each winding curve revealing a vista of lush greenery, they realize how unique the river is. Gazing down while on the water, they enjoy the many types of fish and turtles appearing to fly above the bottom so clear it seems inches away. Abundant wildlife of many species also make their homes along the Weeki Wachee River.
Another shining element of the Weeki Wachee is its extensive network of subterranean caves. Professional Karst Underwater Research dive teams have mapped passageways and vast caverns branching out for miles and plunging to depths of more than 400 feet. Professional diver scientists have discovered unique characteristics within the cave system, bestowing on them such names as “The Emerald Room,” “Middle Earth,” “Post Mortem” and
“Mirkwood,” among others.
A recent achievement by the Karst Underwater Research Team was discovery of a passage connecting the Twin Dees Spring to Weeki Wachee Spring. Exploring and mapping the maze of caverns and passageways unlocks science key to understanding and preserving this delicate natural resource. Click the link below to join the divers on a high definition video tour of the underwater realm.
Whether flowing above ground to the Gulf of Mexico, through mysterious depths below or bubbling up around the world-famous Mermaids, the Weeki Wachee is a treasure like none other. Its beauty is like a jewel, when appreciated and cared for, it will sparkle as a natural wonder for many generations to come.
Karst Underwater Research Weeki Wachee and Twin Dees Springs 2013 – 2015 Research Diving Report
Karst Underwater Research