SILVER SPRINGS, Fla. — Of Florida’s 700 artesian springs, Silver Springs shimmered the brightest. Its fresh water was so translucent that the white sand and tiny shells at the bottom glistened, giving the river and springs a beautiful blue tint from above.
Glass-bottomed boats grew famous here as did underwater photography. Even Tarzan was lured to the springs; six of the movies in the 1930s and ’40s were filmed here. Tourists arrived in droves to these springs, just outside Ocala.
The riverscape — with anhingas drying their wings in the sun, alligators lolling near the banks and native hibiscus in bloom — is beautiful. But its fragility is plain to see. Except for a few patches, the bottom of Silver Springs and Silver River are no longer visible, covered by invasive weeds coated with algae.