Manatee Springs as described by William Bartram, July 1774
Having borrowed a canoe from some Indians, I visited a very great and most beautiful fountain or spring which boils up from between the hills about 300 yards from the river.
Throwing up great quantities of white small pieces of shells and white shell rock which, glittering through the limped eliment as they rise to the surface, subside and fall again roundabout on every side.
The basin of the fountain is nearly round and about 100 yards in circumference, the banks around about of a moderate steep assent cover’d with broken white shell and the water gradually deepens to the center of the fountain, where it is many fathoms deep.
The fountain is full of fish and alegators and at great depth in the water appear as plain as if they were close at hand.
The creek that runs from this immence fountain is above 20 yards wide and runs very swift into the river, carying its sea green transparent waters near 100 yards a cross the river.
The depth of the water of the creek 10 or 12 feets – where we see a continual concourse of fish of various kinds such as garr, catfish, mallet, trout, bream of various species, silver fish and pike and the monstrous amphabious maneta: a skeleton of which I saw on the bank of the spring which the Indians had lately killed.
The hills that nearly incompassed the spring were about 15 or 20 yards in height next the river but the land falls away considerably from the top of the hills and becomes a lower flat or nearly level forest of Pine, Oak, Bay, Magnolia and Cabbage trees.
The soil of the hills a loose greyish sandy mold on shelly and limestone rocks. The water of the spring cool and agreeable to drink. The Indians and traders say this fountain vents the waters of the great Alatchua Savanah.