(5.8) OPINION: "MAKE SILVER SPRINGS GREAT AGAIN!"
MAKE SILVER SPRINGS GREAT AGAIN!
FREE THE OCKLAWAHA RIVER BY THE BREACHING OF RODMAN DAM!
An Information, Opinion, Photos, & Sources Report
Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
Created: 21 November 2016
Last Revised: 22 December 2019
NOTE: Click-on individual photos to enlarge them!
Have you seen any native CATFISH at Silver Springs lately?
Before Rodman Dam was completed in 1968, fish and other aquatic animals (including the Florida manatee) were able to migrate unimpeded up and down the Ocklawaha River from its mouth at the St. Johns River to as far upstream as Silver Springs (56 miles) and/or Moss Bluff Dam (64 miles). Most, if not all, of the following native fish and crustacean species of the St. Johns River system were among those migrants: Atlantic-race striped bass, channel catfish, white catfish, American eel, striped mullet (a.k.a. black mullet), big claw river shrimp (a.k.a. giant river prawn), American shad, and even possibly Atlantic sturgeon, and shortnose sturgeon.
Have any of you seen any Florida-native CHANNEL or WHITE (a.k.a. "Blue") CATFISH at Silver Springs lately?
Martin, R. A. 1966. Eternal spring. Man's 10,000 Years of History at Florida's Silver Springs. "Chapter 9 - The Fishes of Silver Springs" by Ross Allen. Florida’s Silver Springs, Inc. (1966). Great Outdoors Press, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL. 264 pp.
Excerpted from pages 194-196 by Ross Allen:
"Channel catfish attract more attention at Silver Springs than any other fish. They are numerous, particularly around the deep spring holes, where they can be seen maintaining a position by swimming against the current. Large blue-black fish that attain a weight of 40 to 50 pounds, they have broad heads and thick cheeks and some 'old timers' have white spots on top of their heads...Many of these large catfish are seen in a deep spring hole which is called 'Catfish Hotel, with running water in every room'"
"The white catfish, oddly enough, is not white in Silver Springs but is dark blue in color. Hundreds of them congregate in the Catfish Hotel, and may be seen in other spots hiding under logs or resting quietly on the bottom."
"GIANT SHRIMP, Macrobrachium carcinus. These look like lobster or crayfish to the layman, in fact, like anything except shrimp because they are so large. Some GIANT SHRIMP grow as long as 22 inches with feelers much longer and have long claws with a heavy body that is beautifully marked with green and yellow patterns."
"This shrimp is rare but probably more common in Silver Springs than anywhere else. It usually lives in deep holes or underneath large rocks. One has been living for years beneath the sunken boat in the Bridal Chamber."
"THIS IS NOT A LOBSTER [in this photo] - Rarely seen, let alone caught, a giant shrimp Macrobrachium carcinus, taken from Silver Springs, is being measured here at about 21 inches. The long pincers are handy for catching small fish but even larger fish stay away from these giant claws. Shrimp like this one live in the subterranean channels deep under the springs."
Bass, D. G. and V. Guillory. 1976. Fisheries study (Volume 1, 2, 3). Cross Florida barge canal restudy report. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, FL.
"Also the blockage of migrations of striped bass, American eel and possibly, American shad, which now exists in the form of Rodman Dam, would be removed. Restoration of these spawning runs would have a positive economic impact upon commercial fisheries as well as enhancing the sport fisheries."
"Prior to the construction of Rodman Dam, eight marine species (American eel, American shad, hogchoker, Atlantic needlefish, striped bass, sailfin molly, white mullet, striped mullet) ranged up to Moss Bluff Dam and/or Silver Springs (McLane, 1955)."
"Barkuloo (1967) noted that striped bass were occasionally numerous in Silver Springs. As early as 1970, however, there has been a decline in certain marine fishes (e.g., striped bass, mullet) in Silver Springs (letter from Buck Ray to Dale Walker, 23 October 1970). This decline in the marine fishes may be attributed to the presence of the physical barrier downstream -- Rodman Dam."
Clugston, J. P. 2002. Fishes of the Ocklawaha River, Florida. Florida Defenders of the Environment, Gainesville, FL.
"The table of native fishes in the Ocklawaha River system provided by Continental Shelf Associates, Inc (1994) indicates that striped bass rarely were caught in the river and reservoir. However, there is little doubt that they were seasonally common in the unaltered river system. McLane (1955) reported striped bass presence in the Ocklawaha River upstream to the Moss Bluff Dam. Barkuloo (1962) described large numbers in Silver Springs during the summer. About 400 were counted by SCUBA divers from the spring to a point 4.5 miles downstream in Silver River. They were an important attraction to tourists riding glass-bottom boats at the spring. The junction of Silver River and the Ocklawaha River was a popular fishing location for striped bass at that time. More recently, Jordan (1994a) failed to collect striped bass between January and June, 1994, in the reservoir and river, but he did collect them from the barge canal downstream of the lock. However, probably every Spring to date since the completion of the dam, local newspapers have reported excellent striped bass fishing in the Ocklawaha River at the base of Rodman Dam. The presence of striped bass carcasses in the reservoir during two fish kills in the late 1980's indicate that some passed into the reservoir via the lock (Florida Department of Environmental Protection 1997). None were seen in a September 2000 fish kill (R. W. Hujik, FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, personal communication). Striped bass are no longer seen by tourists riding glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs. There is no doubt that the Rodman Dam stops upstream migration of striped bass in the Ocklawaha River."
"Although some striped bass still pass into the reservoir through the lock, numbers are greatly reduced as evident by their absence at Silver Springs and the most recent fish kill, and the large numbers stopped at the dam and caught there by fishermen every Spring. More important, the Ocklawaha River is one of the few tributaries of the St. Johns River that met spawning habitat requirements of striped bass. Construction of the reservoir reduced the length of this free-flowing river to a size no longer suitable for striped bass spawning."
"How about an ANNUAL SILVER SPRINGS MANATEE FESTIVAL?"
Show your support for the free migration -- St. Johns River to Silver Springs -- of the Florida manatee, channel catfish, and Atlantic-race STRIPED BASS. Note that the native Atlantic-race STRIPED BASS lost its only suitable spawning habitat of the entire St. Johns River basin (and the most southern in the U.S.) when Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam was closed across the Ocklawaha River on September 30, 1968.
Riverine LARGEMOUTH BASS have been native to the Ocklawaha River for thousands of years -- they don't need Rodman Dam or Rodman Reservoir for their survival!
Thank you to all that have already signed this "FREE THE OCKLAWAHA RIVER BY THE BREACHING OF RODMAN DAM" online petition at https://www.change.org/p/st-johns-river-water-management-district-free-the-ocklawaha-river-by-the-breaching-of-rodman-dam and desire the restoration of a free-and-swift-flowing again "Source to the Sea" 56-mainstream-mile "Real-Florida-By-God" Ocklawaha River - Silver River - Silver Springs system! Encourage others & spouses &/or significant others to do the same!
Thanks for your support! Sincerely, "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca.
REFERENCE AS: Nosca, P. 2019. "Make Silver Springs Great Again" web-page report. "Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca reports" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL.