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Living Waters: Aquatic Preserves of Florida Quick Topics

St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve Segment - Transcript

Our journey takes us south along the Gulf of Mexico to St. Martins Marsh located in Citrus County near the towns of Homosassa Springs and Crystal River. St. Martins Marsh is roughly 31,000 acres of submerged lands. Open water, inlet bays, tidal rivers, creeks, saltmarsh and a series of hammock islands provide habitat for a rich and diverse animal life.

For thousands of years, artists have captured nature's wonders through pen and paint. For Karen Anderson, St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve is the ideal studio for capturing the natural beauty of Florida.

Karen Anderson:
I go out and I do research. The staff takes me out on their airboat and we go through the saltmarsh and we just peruse and see the vastness and the diversity that's out there. And I just try to take specific species and put them together in posters and art work, the paintings. Just that feeling of awe is the feeling I have when I sit down and I draw. The inspiration I have is strictly coming from nature and knowing that, having the art talent to be able to use that talent for an educational purpose towards the public and showing them how important nature is to each of us. The key point to me is knowing that nature is just so important to each of us; it really is. This is what we need to protect and we need to respect it.

Herons, egrets, ibis, wood storks and other wading birds feed on the mud flats and edges of the marshes. Many commercial and recreational fish species spawn in the marsh or live there for a large part of their life.

Karen Anderson:
People just don't realize how important nature is to them. You sit at home and you watch tv; you're on the computer; you are in the comfort of your home. People are meant to be surrounded by nature. I mean, who doesn't enjoy watching the sunset? Who doesn't enjoy walking outside and hearing the birds sing and the smell of the pine forest?

St. Martins Shells

St. Martins Shells
Photo: Clyde Butcher

The endangered Florida manatee finds refuge in the winter warm waters of the Crystal and Homosassa rivers. The clear, spring-fed waters of Kings Bay draws scores of these beloved mammals as well as thousands of visitors annually.

Sean Bradley, a dive instructor in the St. Martins area shares his perspective on ecotourism and the water quality in the area.

Sean Bradley:
The aquatic preserves are going to be the basis of all the life in this area. The number one headline creature would be the manatees. Without their aquatic preserve for them to be able to feed and come here in the winter months as a natural sanctuary. Even if they came here to stay warm they wouldn�t have enough food to protect them and to keep them going and our numbers in the Crystal River herd have been going up and up and up every year. So we see a good return from protecting the grass lands to the effect on the manatees and the rest of the fish population in the other habitats in the area.

Only place in the world that you can come to swim with the manatees so there are thousands and thousands of people who come every year to see the manatees and enjoy the springs. It's not only the manatees, although that is a big draw; you have beautiful cavern formations here that are great for diving; you have great magnitude one springs that you can snorkel and swim in, so there is lots of other perks to being in the area, even if you're a canoer of kayaker to be able to enjoy this area. We're called the Nature Coast for a reason, it's because it's one of the best preserved areas of Florida.

Karen Anderson:
Aquatic preserves belong to all of us and aquatic preserves are all of our responsibilities to be good stewards.










Last updated: April 06, 2015

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