United States » Manatee Springs - Friedman's Sink

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Overview Location & Specifics Conditions Resources Nearby Systems  
Portions of the following information were taken from Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 66.

Manatee Spring is approximately 7 miles west of Chiefland within Manatee Springs State Park. From the US 19/27A and CR 320 intersection in Chiefland, drive west approximately 5.2 miles on CR 320 to the entrance of the park. Follow park road to the main parking area; the spring is 200 ft the parking lot.

Description Ė Manatee Spring and its run are on the east side of the Suwannee River within a densely wooded, lowland floodplain. The spring discharges into a conical sink depression. The spring pool measures 60 ft north to south and 75 ft east to west. The depth of the spring pool is 25 ft The bottom of the spring pool is sand with numerous submerged logs. There is a limestone ledge 3 ft below the water surface and a vertical wall on the south side of the spring pool where wooden steps lead down into the water for swimming access. There is a tremendous boil associated with this spring. Thick algae cover approximately 75% of the limestone ledge and wall. The water is sky blue. Native aquatic grasses inhabit the spring run. There are many cypress trees and knees on the north and east shores of the spring pool. The spring run flows southward to the Suwannee River approximately 1200 ft A boardwalk follows the run to a dock at the mouth of the run on the Suwannee River. Uplands on the south side of the spring rise to approximately 15 ft above the water level and are developed into a recreation area underneath a thick canopy of live oak and pine. There are numerous walkways and a rock wall along the south shore of the spring pool. The north shore is relatively pristine and wooded. An extensive underwater cave system has been mapped at Manatee Spring.

Utilization -The spring and its surroundings constitute Manatee Springs State Park. The area is developed for camping, hiking, swimming, scuba diving, and nature study.
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Latitude: 29.48747
Longitude: -82.97232
Coordinate System:
Maximum Depth: 105'
 Cave Diving
 Cavern Diving
 Open Water Diving
Date Submitter Visbility Remarks
6/9/2024 David B 70' Entered via Catfish Hotel, low flow, able to swim past 700' upstream from Friedman Sink and back.
5/26/2024 Don Burde 50-60 feet Entered through Catfish. Flow was easily swimmable. Only place where there was high flow was just past Sue sink, but once we made it past that, the flow was manageable. Didn't quite make Freidman's. Some mild particulates floating in the water. The level at Catfish was just up to the handrail on the bottom platform of the ladder.
7/13/2021 Cory Bell 30 Low flow, mild particulate
3/26/2021 AndrewJ 60ft Flow appeared to increase from Sue sink to Friedman's and beyond, swimmable but a real work out. Lots of boogers until past the sewer jump then viz opened up as long as you could deal with Ginnie-like flow.
4/21/2019 Kyle Nevins 30 Did a traverse to catfish. I liked that they added benches near the sink and the trail is well marked. Flow seemed normal
11/3/2017 buhlz 30 downstream freedman..50 upstream Jay and I went upstream freedman around 400 feet or so.. Flow was strong as usual but viz was great. On way back my tank strap broke flowing downstream. Ran into some fellow DPV CCR fellows along the way out to a wonderful commitment to manatee exit. Yeah flow was really up. After that dive we switched our gear and i got to try out his sidemount rig. Much better then backmount i must say!! That was done in catfish for 15 min or so upstream. We checked out some small leads and then came out
2/7/2017 WEPIV (via CDF) 70 Got in at Friedman's and drifted down to catfish and then the headspring. In my logbook I put 70 feet plus/minus for vis but I guess it could have been less, certainly in some places. And while the flow was present, it was pretty light compared to the usual Manatee, and nowhere was that more apparent than exiting the head spring.
7/19/2015 buhlz 8 to 10.. strong flow Nice dive with jack m. Flow was strong and vis wasnt great but still a great dive all around. 72 min 90 ffsw 113 deco.. 21% no o2
6/17/2013 WEPIV 50 - Dove along with James K., and really enjoyed it. The park was at it's scuba diver's capacity yesterday but we were the last ones let in and strangely enough we ended up missing the divers when we popped up at Catfish and then the head spring. It was surprising to see some duck weed though at the head spring being brought over from all of the OW divers. Very enjoyable dive!
6/16/2013 James Kleinheinz 40 Dove from Friedman's to head spring. Water was very milky and filled with particulate. Stopped at Sue's and Catfish. Sue's walls were covered in a very thick algae. However the water was exceptionally clear. You could see the glow from the main tunnel. Catfish was very green. The headspring was nice and clear
5/19/2013 Joe Stillman Hazy Dove downstream to the Manatee entrance and turned. This side was much clearer than the upstream side. I had never dove this side before and was amazed at all the HUGE shimmering schools of catfish in every corner and every turn. REALLY pretty dive. Dove Downstream and it was pretty hazy. Our lights couldn't penetrate past it enough to see much of the walls on the opposite side of the tunnels (21w HID, and 12w LED). The flow wasn't bad, very easy pace we thought and we moved quickly. We dove past Sue Sink about halfway between Sue and Friedman's and turned. Approaching Sue Sink the flow was stronger, we were power kicking up the little hill there, but flow returned to normal after this. This is the 2nd time I have dove this route, I dove it once before last month and it was just as hazy. Its a good dive regardless of the haze though.
1/6/2013 Brandon Cook 20-50 Dove upstream from Friedmams, est. 4,500' best guess, based on others input. We turned at what some have called "the crack" where the white line splits left/right down narrow vertical cracks. Entrance at Friedman was pretty clear and the water was very low. Visibility upstream was around 40-50', though it got progressively worse on return past Friedman and Sue sinks. Flow was pumping as usual.
7/15/2012 buhlz 40 Went upstream friedman around 800' or so. Flow was down and vis flucuated but still and awesome gig. Not bad for not caving for a while. Thanks Jack! Also exited out friedman. 98' 35 min no deco at 29%
8/13/2011 Adam Smith 40' We put in at Friedman's and scootered 3000' upstream. Viz improved after Milk Tunnel. Picked up deco bottles, and exited Catfish. Some great cave back there. A lot of ups and downs. Not sure if it levels off after 3k or not.
2/16/2011 CCDiver 30 We put in at friedman today and headed downstream to the jump for the bypass and the sewer. We were the only group in the park and putting in so far upstream vis was quite nice in the trunk tunnel. Its only 300 ft or so down from friedmean to make the jump so we were there in no time. After installing a reel for a short jump we headed in. After what I thought was carefully studying the map I thought the line would run down the sewer with a jump to the left being the chalky bypass, but it was the opposite with the main line running through the bypass. We looked at the jump to the sewer and read the slate warning of brittle line and decided to head down the bypass tunnel. At this point vis had diminished significantly and I was not real impressed with the dive, but all was about to change. As we made our way around some turns and slopes the cave quickly began to improve with regards to vis and formations. Some of the exposed clay banks are as pretty as I have seen. Lots of white exposed to bounce your light around as well as ups and downs makes this a little hidden treasure of a dive. We turned the dive before completing the circuit as the other side is pretty small. Didn't want to be plowing. We made it with a little pulling back upstream to friedman and decoed out staring at a walmart tarp on the ceiling labeled HABI-TARP. What the hell is this thing for? All in all a great half a day diving.
11/14/2010 Scott Hussey 30 feet Friedman's to Manatee. High flow. Fifteen minutes to Sue Sink without kicking. Viz was good.
10/3/2010 Scott Jantz 30 to 15 or less Vis in Friedman is probably 30 feet or so but downstream it keeps dropping. Flow is very high so the trip from Friedman to Catfish involved no work other than occasionally avoiding the walls coming out of the murk.
8/11/2010 buhlz 40 particulate Kev and I entered Freeman- tied of to check out Chauky tunnel.Very silted and flowing rapidly. Turned and took video/pics all the way out to catfish.. Stayed by Sue sink and checked around. The hundered watter really lights the place nicely but the particulate is pretty notieable when video taping. Played around in catfish for an 82 minute dive 13 minutes of deco (100%,21%) Thanks again Kev!
5/26/2010 Andy Pitkin 40-60 Back to the old Manatee. Flow up, visibility around 40' until past the Milk Tunnel, then a little better up to the Spring Tunnel.
4/30/2010 Buhlz ehh--20' at most Hounddog,Roy,Mark and I travelled approx 300' upstream from friedman and turned for a nice leisurely swim out manatee today. Vis was poor possibly high tide. Only crew in there today. Roy and Mark came with me through Manatee and company upon deco'ing. Think it may have been an Oak snake. What ever it was we didn't wanna know! Anyway, awesome dive once again and thanks for letting me tag along. Mark, thanks for dinner!!!! dive- 56 minutes- 27% no deco! 97 ffsw
4/18/2010 Scott Jantz 30-50 Went up stream from Friedman 300 ft, turned drifted back to the head spring. 2800ft of distance took 45 minutes and used only 1000psi from double 104s. Vis is down now that the river is back to normal. From Friedman up the vis is over 50ft downstream it drops.
4/8/2010 Larry Vrooman 30' Someone pulled the handle and flushed the sink. The basin is up a foot or two and the water is clear. It is the first time I could ever see the entire time while entering through Friedmans. Viz in the cave is good - in the 30 ft rangre but with lots of particulate. Flow is down a bit until you reach Sue sink, then it picks up to normal.
3/13/2010 Jack Marut 30-40 Nick, Paul and I entered at Friedman's and proceeded upstream for approximately 400' then turned the dive and coasted to Catfish. The current was up and the vis down from 2/15/10. Absolutely great dive!
2/24/2010 Buhlz 60 easy Just like Bill said but we didnt go that far. Kev, Jean, Tracey, and Mike headed about 800' or so upstream from Friedmans and coasted all the way back. I had an additional light, (the 100 watter) and lit that place awesomely. Very cool large opening that I've never been before upstream! Very awesome dive. Floated all the way back and cupped are lights as we neared Sue sink. Very picturesque and wonderful. I maintained line while Jean and Kev checked out what could have been the cold water tunnel. We exited nicely with a bottom time of 78 min and 22 min deco. I was on 21% backgas. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! So glad the wife came too to watch! And enjoy how Freedman looked!!!!
2/21/2010 Bil Lindstrom 60 Wow! Positively perfect! Viz up, flow down, what could be better? We went in at Friedman, went upstream via scooters to about p. 4000'. Turned there and swam all the way back enjoying all that wonderful scenery. Best dive I've had recently...until the next one!
2/15/2010 navycaver 80 Went in at Friedmans's on Saturday the 13th. Not quiet as good vis as we had 2 to 3 weeks earlier but still awesome for this system. Flow is still way down. As of that day the park has increased the diver limit at this sink to 4 teams total per day. We got luckky and were the only 2 in there. On exit the ranger told us that another team was able to swim Catfish to Friedmans prior to turning. As i said flow is down and vis is up. GREAT DIVE.
1/29/2010 Gene Page 50 Did a dive with Tim Thomas at Manatee today starting from Friedman's and going upstream 400 feet before turning and heading downstream. We stopped off at Sue on the way down for a few minutes and then swam to Catfish where we spent some time in the cavern and basin area including about 15 minutes of deco on back gas. The water level was up at Friedman's and the flow was down in the system but the vis was better than normal. It seemed really nice to me especially at Catfish. Divers could not exit or enter the head spring due to a number of manatees there.
12/21/2009 Andy Lamborn 30 ft Went back to Friedman's expecting to find the same conditions I saw several days earlier. However, the flow was up and visibility was down 30 ft maybe only 20 ft in few spots. Did the same dive 1000ft upstream of friedman and out to catfish hotel.
12/18/2009 Andy Lamborn 60 Ft Good visibility and lower flow than normal. We swam upstream 1000 ft from friedman and out catfish hotel. There were a lot of little catfish everywhere.
9/30/2009 Larry Vrooman 40 ft Good visbility overall but some fairly large particles floating in the water between Friedmans and Catfish hotel, but improving from Catfish to Manatee.
9/7/2009 Buhlz 30 ' down friedman. 50 upstream Kev and I took a nice trip to manatee on monday. Started from Friedman headed about 400 feet upstream and flow was kicken! We truned and took a nice leisurely stroll towards catfish where we stopped at Sue sink and took some pics! Vis was ok but alot of sediment in the water here and also upstream Friedman. Weird, but cool little dive. Deco at Catfish 22min 8 min O2 total dive was 97 min. Thanks Kev!
7/8/2009 Bob Schulte 30'-60' Visibility in the sink itself tannic, 10'. Once you drop into the conduit 30' vis. Vis slowly improves all the way up to the CDS sign and remained 60' up to the 2nd fissure crack.
6/14/2009 Buhlz 30-40' Went again through Friedmans. Great little dive- clearer up from friedmans made it about 400' past then turned. BT 74 min w/ 25 min deco no O2. 100 minutes total. Nice deco starring @ what swam above.
6/7/2009 Buhlz 40' friedman 50' after Sue Excellant little stroll with Scott @ Manatee's Friedman once again. Amazing! No flow hardly,only after Sue Sink. Nice dive and exited out of Manatee once again. 42 minutes BT and only 15 minutes Deco (No O2). No one in the water as far as divers today. Guess PIII and others opened!
5/31/2009 Buhlz 20' -40' fluctuates Dove with Kev, Jean and Alicia @ Manatee today through Friedmans. Excellant dive and the flow was kickin! We checked out alot of cool stuff along the way out. Headed with the flow and checked out the debri mound by Sue sink and the backside of what we call 'Kev's Crack!" Yeah, I know. Neat stuff lies there! Kev and Alicia exited out of catfish and Jean and I exited Manatee which had great vis. I exited out the chimeny of Manatee to startle Jean awaiting me to follow! BT 90 min @ max 93 FSW and 16 min deco @ 100%. Awesome. Oh yeah, it was packed but not to many divers thank God.
5/25/2009 Buhlz 10-'15' Yeah, Didn't get to dive but Kev,Alicia and Jean said the vis was only about 15 foot from the line. Could not see the sinkhole @ friedman to the bottom of the cave nor can you see past the area where catfish and manatee syphons. Though they did mention it was flowing and was very decent besides the vis. Just have to be more conscientious of your surroundings. For Kev Wish I could have been there to give a better report.
1/31/2009 Buhlz 50 Chris and I went upstream freedman about 300' then coasted the way out manatee. Great little dive and thank God I didn't slip again. Going in the solution hole can disorient you so be careful. Drops to 65 feet in a hurry!!! Still one of my favs.
1/29/2009 Anthony Tedeschi 60-70' Dive One: Entered at Friedman and went upstream on the mainline. Turned at 1900' and coasted out, stopping and checking things out. Dive Two: Entered at Friedmanagain went upstream to a white single arrow that was about at 270'. Tied into the arrow and jumped to the right, headed down the jump about 75' but it started getting low profile and my buddy was in BM. We turned the dive and headed out, coasting out to catfish to do alil deco.
1/3/2009 Andy Pitkin 70-80' I'll echo Walter's assessment. Great visibility beyond the Milk Tunnel, getting even better further into the system. Beyond the Spring/Blue Water Tunnel it was around 80' with low to moderate flow for Manatee.
1/3/2009 Walter Pickel 70' Swam upstream from Freidman's and jumped to the Milk Tunnel. Viz in the Milk Tunnel reduced to around 30'. Flow was strong but manageable throughout the dive. We exited from Catfish.
3/6/2008 Elisha Gibson 80-100 Entered Friedman swam upstream...forget how many feet but we turned after about 40 minutes. Road out to Catfish and exited. Well, it wasn't really a ride out, but a swim out...tiny bit of flow. Very nice dive... couldn't exit at the head spring because of dark water and manatees. I did pull about five ticks off of me tonight though.
3/2/2008 DogDiver 80 Entered Freidman swam upstream about 300 feet and exited at the head spring basin which is now closed. Must exit at catfish untill the Manatees leave. Nice dive with almost no flow. Watch out for the ticks at freidman...lots of them. Of course they cant get through neoprene....
2/21/2008 Rich 75 to 100 Went scootering with John F past the water sampler, and continued on past the old sign to where it really starts to narrow down. Vis was the best I've seen in ages, we could see as far as our 21W's were shining. Flow has picked up since the previous week, which always makes for a fun ride out! Ended up riding down to Catfish to deco with the duckweed monsters.... :)
1/26/2008 Walter Pickel 50'-60' Entered at Friedman's and swam up around 1,100'. Viz wasn't bad but it is cloudy. Entrance is still a little more challenging as the water level is down from the picture posted on 6.24.2007. After turning, we drifted to Catfish, did the rabbit hole and then exited the head spring. Flow actually seemed up from a couple of months ago when we did the traverse from Catfish to the head spring.
8/25/2007 Sean Denney 80'-100' Scootered upstream from Friedmans approx. 4000'. Very clear, flow is down. Visibility seems to improve after 2000' or so. We originally planned to drift back from there, but got bored and decided to scooter back (turned the clutch down to slow the exit). Deco'd in Catfish and then exited through the headspring (didn't want to get out through all the duckweed).
8/8/2007 Rich 90 Diveable again, but water's low enough you can do a 20' stop just outside the tube!
6/24/2007 Anon 0 Friedman sink is quite the mud pool at this point. Here is a picture... http://www.deepintentions.com/web_images/friedmans_06242007.jpg
5/20/2007 Ken Anderson 20-30 Walked to Freidman...use lots of deet, the ticks are swarming. Very low water level in the basin...looks like mud hole. Main system is flowing strong with tanic water and particulate. Nice dive.
1/14/2007 Eric Deister 40-50 Did a double stage, double scooter dive in Manatee. Mr. Permit and Maestro were in front. The water level at Friedmanís was about 0. ( it was low tide ) so getting in took awhile. Typical Manatee viz most of the way till we got back 4000feet plus from Friedmanís then it go a lot tighter and more silty back there. You can see that not many go back there. Came out Catfish. Fun long dive.
8/1/2006 Sean Denney 50'-60' We swam upstream from Friedman's a few hundred feet and then drifted out to the head spring. Found a turtle shell between Friedman and Sue, looked fairly new. As we approached Sue's Sink, the daylight was quite vivid. We stopped and peered upward and could see clearly all the way through. (Never seen it visible before). For a second dive we entered at Catfish and drifted out the head spring.
6/11/2006 Walter Pickel 30'-40' Plan was to scooter from Friedman's to the Blue Water Tunnel and exit Catfish. Overall conditions of the system are pretty good for diving. However, the water level is WAY down at Friedman's. That made transporting doubles, side mount tanks, a rebreather and scooters hard. Once in the system, the visibility was 30' or so and the flow wasn't bad at all. One team made it to the Blue Water Tunnel and did a couple hundred feet down that. My team had some equipment issues and we turned about 1,000' from upstream from Friedman's. We exited via Catfish where along the way the viz got to around 40'.
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 Overview Information Available for Manatee Springs - Catfish Hotel  Manatee Springs - Catfish Hotel 105 True True True 2/27/2023 0.2
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