VORTEX SPRING

Min Depth: 20 ft.
Max Depth: 115 ft.

 

Vortex Spring is a popular diving area both for experienced and novice divers. It is a cold, freshwater spring that produces approximately 28 million US gallons daily, and is recognized as one of the best and safest diving resorts in the country.

The spring consists of a 200 ft (61 m) basin with sloping sides and an underground cave which links the spring to the Floridan aquifer. Water temperature is steady at 68 °F (20 °C) with no thermocline, and is typically very clear. The spring runoff flows into nearby Otter Creek, which joins Sandy Creek a short distance upstream of Ponce de Leon Spring.

Dive training is offered at the park. It has diving classes for every scuba level, including those with special needs. There are two underwater training platforms at 20 feet (6.1 m) which are often used for Open Water certification dives, and a “talk box” that divers swim into, allowing them to talk to each other while under the surface. The cavern entrance is at 58 feet (18 m) below the surface, and has an opening of 9 by 12 feet (2.7 m × 3.7 m). A handrail is mounted along the wall of the cave. The cave is accessible to 310 feet (94 m), further passage is blocked by a steel grate. Experienced divers are allowed to dive to 115 feet (35 m).

The bottom of the spring bowl is sandy, with limestone near the vent. A handrail leads cave divers back 400 feet. Vortex waters flow out of the 225-foot-diameter spring pool to form Blue Creek, which flows over a half-mile before entering the Choctawhatchee River. The fish at the spring include bluegills, channel catfish, American freshwater eels, gar, redhorse suckers, shadow bass, and exotic species such as koi and goldfish.

The 480-acre resort also offers recreational opportunities. The spring pool has a swimming area that slopes gently from shallow to deeper water and includes a diving board, two high jumping platforms, a “zip line,” 2 slides, and an old-fashioned rope swing.

To find out which dive operators are going to visit this site, and others like it, visit Scuba Schedules and navigate to the the North West Florida scuba diving region.

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