The Great Florida Outdoors

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Florida Streams and Rivers

By Dr. Robert Norman, Clinical Professor, Dermatology, Nova Southeastern University

Florida has over 12,000 miles of streams and rivers. In addition, Florida has more than 750 springs, including 33 first magnitude springs, a greater number than in any other state. Rivers may originate from springs or from rainwater that accumulates and drains the landscape in areas referred to as watersheds.

In Florida, three types of rivers occur—blackwater, whitewater (alluvial), and spring run rivers. Blackwater rivers are tannin-stained from marshes and swamps. Alluvial rivers, made of high-volume systems, transport suspended sediments and have a milky color. Spring runs originate from springs.

When you observe rivers, you will see that they seek paths of least resistance. If a river is unmodified, it typically follows a tortuous route, floods frequently, and creates floodplain wetlands. When rivers undergo channelization to prevent flooding or improve navigability, it disrupts the relationship between riverine flood cycles and the floodplain wetlands they create.

I recently kayaked on the Hillsborough River with my friend Efraim Mendelson from Israel. He had visited me BC (Before Covid) and he could not wait to come back and go on the river again. We kayaked at the same location—Sergeant’s Park—and included a trip on the high waters of 17 Runs. The afternoon was amazing and Efraim talked to everyone he met. He proclaimed the beauty of the river and how there was no other place like this on Earth. He is a Cantor and well-known singer and he celebrated his life on the river with wonderful songs in Hebrew that he also sings in synagogue and during celebrations. Efraim volunteers and entertains children in hospitals and arranges for children in need of special surgeries to come to the United States to be treated. I played Efraim a blues song on my harmonica that I composed on the spot for him and heard the tune echo through the woods along the river. We both laughed and smiled and enjoyed the beauty of what Hashem provides.

Kayaking with my friend, Efraim Mendelson, from Israel.

Get out and enjoy The Great Florida Outdoors!

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