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In this day and age, most teenagers are glued to their phones, but for 30 minutes on September 16, 2019, my classmates and I had a unique experience where we were connected with nature without being distracted by the buzzing of our phones. To be specific, we were passengers on The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment Glass-Bottom Boat Tour. The Glass-Bottom Boat Tour promotes environmental awareness and gives passengers an up-close view of the underwater world. Our tour guide gave us an informal lecture about the movement, quality, and properties of the waters and the history of the springs. Visually seeing the water and wildlife without physically having to go under to see it is a one-of-a-kind experience unique to Spring Lake.
At the headwater of the San Marcos River, numerous springs bubble up to form Spring Lake, hence the name. Spring Lake is a freshwater ecosystem with water supplied from the Edward’s aquifer. The water bubbles up from the springs at a constant temperature of 74°. Spring Lake hosts a wide variety of aquatic life. Moreover, some of the species in Spring Lake cannot be found anywhere else in the world, making them unique to the lake. Furthermore, Spring Lake is home to five endangered species, such as the Texas Wild Rice and the Texas Blind Salamander. Nonetheless, I enjoyed seeing the many turtles in the water.
Although the tour was only 30 minutes, the information I learned about the importance of keeping our waters clean will resonate with me for a lifetime. More specifically, learning about stormwater awareness was a real eye opener. Being a Houstonian, we do not have many freshwater rivers nearby. For that reason, I was never properly informed about how one’s actions can detrimentally affect water quality. Fortunately, our tour guide informed us where trash, food, and oil go when littered on the streets. In short, rainwater moves automobile leakages and littered food and trash into storm drains. Once these contaminants enter storm drains, they travel to the nearest river. These contaminants are typically untreated and unfiltered, thus, quickly contaminating the river. The raw beauty of the lake serves an inspiration to protect the waters and avoid littering at all costs, because it has dire consequences that the eyes may not see. All in all, seeing groundwater and wildlife in action helped us gain an appreciation for the importance of water and conservation.
In addition to being educated about keeping our river clean, we were informed about numerous interesting factoids regarding Spring Lake. Notably, a fact about the late Johnny Weissmuller. Weissmuller was a famous swimmer and actor, well known for starring in the original Tarzan films, Weissmuller visited Spring Lakes in 1965 to film underwater performances for the Tarzan series.
Simply put, the Glass-Bottom Boat Tour was a fascinating experience. For someone who is not outdoorsy, it was neat seeing natures beautiful aqueous creatures and being educated about the history of Spring Lake. Spring Lake’s water is extremely clean making it easy to see directly to the bottom. Being from Houston, the closet freshwater we have is at Galveston Beach, where the water is murky, therefore, seeing clear water was a pleasant sight. Apart from connecting with water and the lake, it was nice experiencing the Boat Tour with my classmates. We are all freshmen and are undoubtedly feeling freshmen anxiety and stress, therefore, it was peaceful being out on the water in the early morning, learning about the lake’s history and its connection to our school.
There is no denying that the Glass-Bottom boat tour is an interesting sight. The infrastructure of the boat is unique; I have never heard nor seen a water vehicle of its kind. Having never been on a boat, I was a bit uneasy to begin with, but as the tour proceeded, my nerves were settled whilst looking down at the beautiful creatures in the lake, the gorgeous landscape around me, and while learning about the lake’s history.
It was nice seeing the wildlife and water with our own eyes because we lived it. If we were being lectured about Spring Lake and being shown pictures and data through a PowerPoint, I believe we would not have connected to the river. Experiencing it firsthand was captivating and it made us more aware of the importance of caring for the river.
Our tour guide mentioned that Spring Lake has work-study opportunities available, various volunteer programs that allow Texas State students to help keep our water clean, and opportunities to participate in testing the rivers water quality. With Truth being our Common Experience theme, and with What the Eyes Don’t See being our Common Reading, it is an appropriate time to be uncovering the truth about our water. As someone who has always aspired to make a significant impact on my community; volunteering, going through training, and certification to test water quality, may be an ideal place for me to start.
Taking everything into account, it is truly fascinating how a body of water can hold vast amounts of history, cultivate so much awareness, and connect a community.
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