Saturday, May 21, 2011

Aquarena Springs - Glass Bottom Boat - Part 1

The girls and I wanted to do something today.... we have been so busy with going to Austin and back and me finishing up this semester. We haven't really been able to do anything fun. So I told CC to look up Aquarena Springs. I have always wanted to go there since I was a little girl and never got the chance. The main attraction is the Glass Bottom Boat tours over the Edwards Aquifer. Way back when, when I didn't get to go, they had "aquamaids" swimming in the water and it was like an attraction park. Now it's an environmentally protected park.

I took so many pictures I will have to divide this up into 2 posts! Bear with me.

It just so happened that today the Texas Parks and Wildlife were hosting their first annual Yappapolozza, a benefit to raise money for the endangered turtles at Aquarena Springs. This meant no admission fees into the park for us! Bonus!! Our boat ride wasn't for another 30 minutes so we looked around in the aquarium on site.

This fish tank was HUGE!! And the fish in it were GINORMOUS too!!



Some of the endangered turtles...


We walked around a bit outside too. It was so hot and sticky and humid...ugh! I think the high was 97 today...and it certainly felt like it!










I loved all the large, lush, green trees. They were huge and amazing!










It was finally time to climb aboard!







There was a single bench along each side of the boat and the middle was glass so we could see the life underwater.


Because the water is so clear the plants under water receive so much sunlight and photosynthesis occurs so rapidly these bubbles are actually pure oxygen coming up from the plants.



In the beginning this was actually the beginning of the San Marcos river. A man by the name of Edward Burleson put up a damn creating this aquifer which now supplies water to more than 2 million homes. In the early 20's it was a resort and entertainment park.



You can still see the steps here from when it was a natural swimming pool. The original diving platform is still there as well. The building now houses offices for the Texas Parks and Wildlife. They are in the process of restoring the aging buildings.





This little guy is an endangered species. He has the body of a beaver but a long tail like a rat. I hate that I forgot his name!







This is how clear the water is...it's simply amazing!!


The turtles are in nesting season right now. There were signs around the park that said "Turtle Crossing" and we were told to not touch them or disturb them in any way so as not to scare them and then they wouldn't lay their eggs.




Our tour guide said the water is usually 72 degrees but since Texas is in such a drought the water levels have dropped and it's about 69 degrees. She also said this water is so clean and pure it's about 3 times cleaner than tap water.











You could actually see where the water was coming up from the aquifer floor. The sand would bubble up in these areas. There are more than 200 springs and three large fissures. There was one area where the water comes out so fast even plants cannot grow there.



This particular area is 28 feet deep. Look how clearly you can see straight through to the bottom.





In the middle of this photo is a long fish, again I don't remember the name but it was really cute and the tour guide was able to position the boat so that we could see it clearly through the glass.





She also said they have to have someone come and "mow" the grass under the water regularly because it grows so very fast. If they didn't "mow" it, the boats could get stuck!

It was so beautiful!! It was definitely worth the wait it took me to get there!




A school of bass swam by under the boat. Luckily I had my phone camera out just in time!



A view out of the window across from me.














My girls looking down through the glass....











It's up this hill that the original houses still stand. You can still see stairs that lead up to the houses. This is what they are working on repairing and creating new trails for visitors.











The next part of my post will show the wetlands and the floating pier.



We had such a good time. We were exhausted and hot but we definitely enjoyed ourselves. You can read more about Aquarena Springs here and here and here.


2 comments:

Dogmom Diva

Hi April..wow what a cool place, I have a friend who is living temporarily in Austin, must remember to tell her about this place..Have you been to Barton Springs..I want to come visit so badly!
Have a blessed Sunday and look forward to the next batch of pics!

Barb

Marydon

TY for taking me on this trip with you, April. I had not heard of it. Beautiful scenery & water life. Telling brother about this for him to take the girls to.

Have a beautiful eve ~
TTFN ~
Hugs,
Marydon

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