Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park
|Peacock Springs State Park|
|Location||Suwannee County, Florida, USA|
|Nearest city||Live Oak, Florida|
|Area||733 acres (297 ha)|
|Governing body||Florida Department of Environmental Protection|
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park is a 733-acre (297 ha) Florida State Park located on Peacock Springs Road, two miles (3 km) east of Luraville and on State Road 51, 16 miles (26 km) southwest of Live Oak, Florida. Activities include picnicking, swimming and diving, and wildlife viewing. Among the wildlife of the park are deer, bobcats, raccoon, squirrels, beaver and otters, as well as turkey, blue heron and barred owls. The park name commemorates the work of diver and explorer Wes Skiles. Prior to 2010 the park was known as Peacock Springs State Park. Amenities include a nature trail, six sinkholes, and Peacock and Bonnet Springs, with miles of underwater caves popular with cave divers. The two springs are tributaries of the Suwannee River. The park is open from 8:00 am till sundown year round.
In 2006, The Trust for Public Land purchased approximately 481-acre (195 ha) for expansion of the park. This donation more than doubled the size of the park that was previously 252-acre (102 ha).
The Peacock Springs Cave system was first explored by Vasco Murray in 1956. The first map of the system was completed by the National Speleological Society team leader, Sheck Exley, in 1995. Exley's team made over 521 dives to complete the survey. A resurvey of the system was completed in 1996 by a team led by Michael Poucher. As of June 13, 2008, the Peacock cave system was the 24th longest underwater cave in the world at 7408 meters.
It is one of the largest underwater caves in the continental United States with over 28,000 feet (8,500 m) of explored passageway. The cave system consists of seven major springs and sink holes, six of which are located within Peacock Springs State Park. Peacock Springs is a popular destination for cave divers all over the world and is extensively used to train new cave divers.
Springs and Sinkholes
The Peacock I Spring is the most accessible and most popular site in the system with an elevated walkway and stairs leading to the spring. There are three passageways that converge on the spring called the Pothole tunnel, the Peanut tunnel and the Peacock II tunnel. Each of these three tunnels has a permanent guideline (called a gold line) placed in it to ease navigation by cave divers. As of 2006, these guidelines start just within the cave system so they cannot be seen by snorkelers or open water scuba divers.
The Pothole tunnel, named for the sinkhole 450 feet (140 m) down the tunnel from Peacock I, is the deepest of the three tunnels with a maximum depth of 65 feet (20 m). It contains large open passageways, relatively high ceilings and a silt bottom. The walls are often covered in silt but occasionally the silt will be blown away by floods exposing the white limestone underneath.
The Peanut tunnel is a relatively shallow and narrow tunnel. It is named for a section that resembles the two lobes of a peanut. Its depths range from 20 to 60 feet (6.1 to 18.3 m). At approximately 500 and 1,000 feet (150 and 300 m) into the tunnel, crossover tunnels connect the Peanut tunnel to the Pothole tunnel.
Peacock II Tunnel
The Peacock II tunnel leads to Peacock II spring.
Peacock II Spring is a smaller spring than Peacock I. It is one of only two sites available for diving by open water divers, as it contains no access to the cave system.
Pothole is a small inline sink approximately one third of the distance between Peacock I and Olsen. The sink hole has a very small entrance into the Peacock Springs cave system and due to the steep sides, it is inaccessible to cave divers.
Olsen is a small inline sinkhole approximately 1,500 feet (460 m) from Peacock I down the Pothole tunnel. There are two small entrances into the cave system at Olsen dropping into the same tunnel. Being central to the cave system, Olsen was once a popular entrance for cave divers as it allowed easy access to much of the cave. To prevent erosion, cave divers are no longer permitted to enter at Olsen sink as of 2002, although it remains a popular place to temporarily surface during a dive.
Orange Grove is a large terminal sinkhole northeast of Peacock I. With a raised walkway and stairs leading into the sink hole, it is a popular entrance into the cave. Two winding tunnels extend from the sink hole called Lower Orange Grove and Upper Orange Grove. Lower Orange Grove is a deeper tunnel extending down to 180 feet (55 m). As a very advanced dive, it is not as popular as Upper Orange Grove. Upper Orange Grove is a winding tunnel in all three dimensions starting at 70 feet (21 m) deep and becoming as shallow as 40 feet (12 m). The tunnel extends outside Peacock Spring State Park to Challenge Sink.
Challenge is an inline sink, the northern most sinkhole in the system, and is the only sinkhole outside of the Peacock Springs State Park. Steep sides makes entering and exiting Challenge difficult. It is a popular destination for divers entering Upper Orange Grove.
Cisteen is a large offset sink like Orange Grove. It offers a very small, silty entrance to the cave system, and is usually covered in a thick layer of duckweed.
Peacock III is a siphon, meaning it takes in water rather than discharging it, as a spring would. Peacock III has a separate system from Peacock I, II, and its related sinks. The system is very low, silty, and shallow, except for one room, Henley's Castle, which drops to depths of over 200 feet (61 m).
Waterhole is another offset sink. It contains geological features not seen in the rest of the system, such as low bedding planes, as opposed to the vaulted ceilings found in the rest of the system.
- "Peacock Springs State Park renamed for Wes Skiles" (PDF). Press release. Florida State Parks. November 16, 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
- Williams, Sarah (2006-10-03). "Governor, Cabinet Approve State Park Expansion". Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- "Peacock Springs State Park Expansion Completed (FL)". The Trust for Public Land. 2006-12-27. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- Beck, Barry F (1986). "A generalized genetic framework for the development of sinkholes and Karst in Florida, U.S.A." Environmental Geology and Water Science. 8 (1). Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- Short, Wendy (1997). "Peacock Springs Survey Project". NSS News: 226. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- Exley, Sheck; Murphy, Gerald J.; Poucher, Michael; Poucher, Sandra. The Taming of the Slough: A comprehensive history of Peacock Springs. National Speleological Society. ISBN 1-879961-19-9.
- "The longest underwater cave systems in the world". Global Underwater Explorers. 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- "Peacock Springs". 2005-01-06. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
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