United States » Manatee Springs - Catfish Hotel

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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: 29.48858
Longitude: -82.9759
Coordinate System:
Maximum Depth: 105'
 Cave Diving
 Cavern Diving
 Open Water Diving
Date Submitter Visbility Remarks
2/27/2023 Buhlz 80 Did two dives with Mr Paul heinereth both upstream Freedman more line drills and scooter drills along with Miss Bonnie who tagged along. 90 ft 65 Min 12 deco. Did a gap tie off to the sewage tunnel for about 200 ft Bonnie turn dive.
2/26/2023 Buhlz 80 Dpv training with Paul Heinerth . Started with the basics went 800 ft upstream towards Friedman line drills scooter placement etc. 90 foot 1 hr air deco 15 min
4/12/2022 Cory Bell 20-30ft Moderate flow
8/19/2019 Brandon 3ft Basin is pretty much 0 viz. The entrance to the cave and first 50ft or close to that are less than 5ft with extreme flow!! Turned the dive for safety.
8/25/2018 Andy Pitkin 40-60 Flow is still very high. Went about 14K into the new section to clear up some unfinished survey. Visibility is typically low until upstream of the Milk Tunnel, then about 50' up and into the Spring Tunnel, and 60' in the new section.
12/28/2017 AKC 15' Flow was way up. Dived from Catfish to Friedman and had an avg of 15' of viz the whole way.
7/8/2017 Doby45 50' cloudy Flow appeared to be down..
2/11/2017 AJ Gonzales 50' Flow seemed normal, great vis, blue water. High flow in the Sewer Tunnel
4/20/2016 Derek 50-60' Suwannee River was high, moderate flow, 50-60' blueish tint to the water.
3/1/2016 Narc'ed Diving 30-40' Entered at Catfish and went approximately 2000' past Freidman's. Vis was decent lots of particulate in water but cleared up after Freidman's. Vis was dark but 30-40. The basin at Catfish was great, you could see wall to wall top to bottom.
2/21/2016 Mer 30ft 30ft vis with moderate flow from Catfish to Sue Sink.
10/12/2015 TomM 12 Poor vis, milky, high flow
9/20/2015 drz 15' flow was rippin'; vis. was 2x body lengths; basin was murky, too.
8/16/2015 Walter Pickel 5-10 Flow is probably the strongest I've seen it. The head spring is actually pulsing.

Vis in Catfish was around 80' with the surface covered in "monster" duckweed. Viz up to Sue's Sink was 5-10'
3/7/2015 Louis 40 Flow is down and Vis is up. Did the swim up to Friedman's and then back down to the main entrance - more fun then a barrel full of monkeys and a Manatee to hang out with on deco to boot.
1/25/2015 Chad 30' Flow was a little below normal, manageable but still a light workout, 30-40 ft vis with lots of large particulates in the water.
11/8/2014 Mer 60 Upstream, moderate flow for Manatee (which means high flow). Typical vis for the front of the cave. Lots of catfish.
5/7/2014 MacLeod 70'-80' Nice dive upstream. Hands down the lowest flow I've ever seen at Manatee. More like a dive at Peacock....
3/29/2014 Jack Hammer (CDF) 60' 1st time there. Flow swimmable, vis was good I'm told, ~60'. Got there an hour after opened, no trouble getting in. Only saw two other teams of cave divers, quite a few OW divers.
4/23/2013 DecoHokie 50ft-60ft Water level above concrete landing. Flow was reportedly at 20% of normal, but this was our first dive here. Our first dive was downstream to Manatee Spring and back, flow made the entrance back onto the main line from Manatee Spring sink very difficult but still possible. Our second dive upstream was average conditions, but there were several other 'cavern' and open water certified divers in the basin upon exit. Will bring a cart or some way to assist in transporting cylinders from the parking lot next trip here.
7/30/2012 Mer 40', 80' Water level down to second step before the concrete step. Basin a little cloudy. Flow up from what is was during and even the month before the TS Debby flood, but is not ripping yet (can make it through Sue's Sink scootering (Gavin) with stages without kicking, but good line needed). 40' of vis from Sewer Tunnel to Catfish with some boogers coming from Sewer, which is living up to its name at the moment. Water upstream of Sewer is much clearer, 80' vis with slight milkiness coming from Milk Tunnel. No longer the epic low-flow, clear-vis it's been the last 1-2 months, but still better than average for Manatee. Skeeters better than during flood, but still a factor.
7/29/2012 stairman 15 - 20 ft. flow was up today, vis was down. The ride from Catfish to manatee was fast and dark with vis only about 10 ft at times. Not much sightseeing just watching the line for the one way trip.
7/15/2012 buhlz 40-50ish Grabbed another set ofg doubles at 32% and travelled upstream catfish to about 200' past sue sink. Flow seemed alittle stronger here but turned and checked out around sue and went out manatee to hang with the OW's. 56 min 4 min deco. Excellant DAY! Again thanks Jack!
7/15/2012 Brandon Cook 80-100 Excellent conditions, very low flow, vis in the 80-100 range.
7/8/2012 Mer 60', 80-100' Decent thunderstorms in area previous evening. The Friedman to Catfish stretch is now a little milkly, still good and much better than average Manatee vis at 60'. Flow similar (low) or slightly less than 7/7. Sink water level down 3-4 inches. Did not see any tide-related change in water level at Catfish 7/7 or 7/8, NOAA Suwannee River gauge at Manatee not showing any tidal influence at moment. Past Pillar Room vis continues to improve, goes to 80' and clear then to 100' and crackling way upstream.
7/7/2012 Mer 70' TS Debby was 2 weeks ago and Suwannee crested 3ish days prior: Manatee head spring blown (tannic water up the run, park has closed the spring run.) Catfish clear, but water up 5' from before (only one step below mid-stair platform is above water). 70' of vis downstream of Friedman. Did not go past Pillar Room to see if it improved further upstream. Flow still way down (more than before), but vis slightly less than it was 2 weeks ago, but still epic-ly clear for Manatee. [Word from others was that about a week after the TS the system was milky with 30' vis, did not personally verify this]
7/7/2012 Mer 70' TS Debby was 2 weeks ago and Suwannee crested 3ish days prior: Manatee head spring blown (tannic water up the run, park has closed the spring run.) Catfish clear, but water up 5' from before (only one step below mid-stair platform is above water). 70' of vis downstream of Friedman. Did not go past Pillar Room to see if it improved further upstream. Flow still way down (more than before), but vis slightly less than it was 2 weeks ago, but still epic-ly clear for Manatee. [Word from others was that about a week after the TS the system was milky with 30' vis, did not personally verify this]
6/23/2012 Mer 70', 100' 70'ish vis to just downstream of Friedman. Past Pillar Room 100' and cracklin'. If a team has been ahead of you, might be some particulate suspended, but still clear. Have dove on both incoming and outgoing tides recently and haven't noticed much difference in flow. Flow waaay down. Clearest I've ever see Friedman to Catfish. My buddy pulled a bunch of mono-filament out of the Sue Sink area today, got all we could see; but, be aware there might be more there.
6/19/2012 Riana 80' Dove Freidmans and Catfish Hotel both sites has great visibility was very slippery entry at Freidmans. Visibilty was up to 80 feet and flow was almost non existent. You can see pictures online at www.rianatreanor.smugmug.com
5/6/2012 Jean Nelson 40-60 Feet Very low flow! Visibility was excellent, even around the sewer tunnel. Had no problem exiting at headspring. Best dive in Manatee for quite a while. Went in at Freedman's (still some water in the hole) and went upstream then back down bypass tunnel. 90 mins total.
4/28/2012 Mer 60-100' Easily 60' vis between Catfish and Friedman. Best vis there and lowest flow I've ever seen. No need to pitch up to get through Sue's Sink area. 100' and crackling past the pillar room to at least well past the sign.
3/24/2012 Patrick very low 20 feet We put in a catfish. Noticed the ladder to the left as you descend the stairway, water level was even with the platform. Tied of in the caveren zone and plowed up stream for what seemed to be an eternity....found the plaque placed by a recently married diver. Pushed a little past Sue sink and turned dive, Flow was very strong!!!! Water had a lot of particulate. Very challenging dive...
2/18/2012 Andy Pitkin 20-80 Very poor visibility until about 200' past the Milk Tunnel (is there a connection there?) Visibility after that was very good all the way back. Flow was low for Manatee.
12/4/2011 Andy Pitkin 30-80' Flow around normal for Manatee. Water level at Catfish about 8 inches below concrete step. Visibility pretty typical too, crappy until beyond the Milk Tunnel, then just gets better after that. Gorgeous in the Spring Tunnel.
8/14/2011 Scott Hussey 30ft The flow was ripping, fortunately we had scooters. We got in at Catfish, swam up to the Pillar Room, and high-sped our way out to Manatee. I was shot out ungracefully. We were the only cave team in the water and the park was not as crowded with swimmers. Awesome day, great dive.
5/23/2011 Wendy Thurman 30 ft Flow is up- dove upstream and it was manageable. Siphon side was a bit tougher.
5/15/2011 Dan Sledge 30 feet Conditions were good! The flow is so low I was able to enter the siphon from the main head spring. Visibility is about average for this location.
4/23/2011 Stanley Fatmaxx 20 ft flow was moderate. vis up to freidman's was around 20 ft. after freidman's vis increases slowly. the further you go, the better it gets. around 80 ft. and blue at the water sampling station
4/9/2011 Jason 50 Flow was INTENSE. Vis was pretty good. Have the catfish always been so small?
2/13/2011 AJ Gonzales 20 or less Highest flow I've ever seen, very low visibility with lots of particulate in the water.
12/26/2010 Walter Pickel 50' Good final 2010 dive. First time swimming here in a while. Flow was solid and visibility was very good for manatee but there was heavy particulate. The closer you get to Friedman's and beyond the visibility gets much better. There are no manatees in the spring or the run so the main spring is open for as an exit.
9/6/2010 JAnteau 30-40' Vis is about 30-40' in cavern zone with lots of particulate. Flow was up but since this is the first time I have dove this site it could be normal. This turned into a cavern dive and checking out Catfish hole due to a primary light failure at the beginning of the dive. But had a great time anyways.
8/18/2010 Scott Pulliam 30-40 Vis in basin good. Once upstream vis is abot 30-40' lots of particulate. flow normal.
6/19/2010 Eric Deister 75' Best Viz I've ever seen there. Swam upstream to a little over 3100ft. Flow was normal.
5/23/2010 Mathew Bull 40' Dove Sunday, don't really have any experience here for a flow report, but it didn't seem all that bad to me. Vis was good too.
4/11/2010 Larry Vrooman 30 ft Viz is good but with lots of particulate. Flow is about normal from Sue to Manatee. The basin is very clear.
2/15/2010 Buhlz unbelievable Never seen this systems so clear. Too bad I had issues but gotta make it back. Jack and I made it 200' from catfish than i turned do to breathing issues. 30 min @ BT 97'.... Busy Busy Busy!
2/7/2010 Shirley Kasser Sparkling Basin was crystal clear, even with the large number of classes being held. The flow both upstream and down was extremely mild, and the visibility was amazing. We could actually get a better feel for just how big some of the upstream passage really is! Downstream was a little hazy, and the main spring was closed to divers due to the basin being "black."
1/17/2010 Mathew Bull 60-70' Only dived the cavern, vis was great and flow was apparent. Water was up to the first step above the concrete landing.
12/20/2009 Mark Schroder 30'-50' Only had time for one dive. Entered at Catfish. Water just below the concrete landing at the bottom of the steps. Moderately strong flow. Lots and lots of particulate in the water. Anything brighter than a 10 Watt light and you will blinded by the reflection from the particulate. Didn't make it make it to Friedman so we don't know if it cleared after that.
12/6/2009 Walter Pickel 60' Spent a few hours in Catfish today. The basin is clear, and the system seems to be pumping more than it did the last time I was here; there was a very noticeable pull towards the downstream tunnel. The water level was down and below the platform. Other teams noted that Chakley's bypass was very clear and after Friedman's the water became very blue and with little particulate.
9/27/2009 Fed 40 Dove catfish hotel on Sunday, first ones there, basin was crystal clear. Cave viz was decent 40 feet or so. Flow was very manageable. Great dive and had the place to ourselves! Only 2 other divers the whole day!
8/29/2009 Andy Pitkin 25' Main tunnel was around 25' viz. Flow was lower than normal for Manatee. We were in the Sewer Tunnel relining it - viz there was 10-15' due to a lot of milky fine particulate. Past about 2500' up the Sewer tunnel it improved to 40-50', again suggesting a connection with the Milk Tunnel.
8/23/2009 Shirley Kasser Nice, little milky We had a great dive at Catfish, up to Sue Sink. The flow was kicking, about normal. At Sue, we played roller coaster...click.click.click....up the hill...whoosh...back down the hill...click.click.click...up the hill...whoosh...back down. The sign is down.
7/25/2009 Andy Pitkin 30' Murky in Catfish due to OW divers. In the cave it was little better, around 30' up to Friedman's. Flow was down.
7/5/2009 Andy Pitkin 25-40' Flow down (at around 11.15am). Viz 25-30' from Catfish to Friedman's. Slightly better (up to 40') in the Sewer Tunnel.
5/17/2009 Ed Jackson 10 Feet We went in catfish hotel and had to tie off very high in the basin due to poor visability. No light can be seen when you get to the sign. Had to stay very close to the line. Went past sue sink about 400 feet from Friedmans. We came out through the head springs. No light can be seen at the end of the gold line. We had to tie off to find the exit. Very high flow.
4/10/2009 Bob Cree So Cool Dove the system twice over the last week or so. First dive was an alternate dive on 4/2/09 when we found LR was under and Cathy told us Cow was done. So we drove south to Manatee and entered at Friedman. Went back until the scooters said no more. Vis was milky compared to normal, with vis 50-60. Had the place to ourselves. Second dive was a most unusual cave dive. The system had reversed and river water was flowing into the cave along the bottom as cooler water with the warmer clear cave water on top. That was f'in cool and any words CANNOT describe it. Picture a milky waterfall going over a dropoff, like a cloudy waterfall as you go the former upstream. Never seen anything like it. I am very glad to had dove throughout the region with the water rising fast. A real lesson in hydrology.
4/5/2009 loquat149 20-30' Dove Catfish upstream today and almost made it to Friedman Sink. The flow was so weak that no pulling was necessary, just kick-and-glide, although it was still strong in the vicinity of the debris below Sue Sink. The water level and flow has continued to diminish during the previous two weeks.
3/29/2009 Marson Kay 80-100 Best day at manatee in a long time... Vis was great at Catfish all the way back past the 2nd crack. It was nice being able to see how big the system is when the vis is great.
3/1/2009 Andrew Ainslie 50 ft or so Went in with Corey Mearns. We dropped a backup stage and scooter at the survey station, and went back to about 8000 ft from the Catfish entrance. The conditions were great, and got better and better the deeper we went into the system. This is a superb scooter dive.
1/18/2009 Bil Lindstrom 20 at best My first time here. Thanks to Bob and Elisha for the advice and help. Flow was kicking, especially at the junction by Sue's Sink. The scarcity of solid bottom for pull and glide makes this a tough swim, but a great workout. Water level in CH was a little lower than the concrete pad at the bottom of the stairs. Note to Elisha: Viz was no better on our second dive.
12/21/2008 Buhlz 35 Dove upstream from friedman (400 ) visibility was great- turned around and had a great relaxing coast dive out. Passing through catfish was really awesome becuae NO ONE was there to muck up anything!!so, passing on through was like entering another planet with the duckweed covering the sunlight. Exited through the main headspring and deco'd playing with fish and practicing reeling. Saw two OW divers in the headspring but besides them, we were the ONLY people in he whole park. Great dive as usual, still one of my favs by far. Total time: 76 min 12 min deco. 93' 69 degrees.
12/6/2008 Andy Pitkin 40' Basin good, about 50' visibility. Main passage about 40' up to the Sewer Tunnel jump. Sewer tunnel was its usual 30-40' with some milkiness for the first 2000 feet. Further back it improved to around 50'. Water was a couple of inches over the concrete pad at the bottom of the steps at Catfish. We dived 3 hours after high tide.
12/1/2008 Bert Wilcher 30ft dove upstream past Sue's flow up visibility was good considering it poured down rain all day. Catfish hotel visibility to 40ft in the basin. Water covers the last step and concrete pad.
9/18/2008 Anthony Tedeschi 20ish Dove Manatee for the first time yesterday. Our first dive was done at Catfish, we swam upstream towards Friedman and made it 200' from Friedman sink. I don't know what the normal flow is but I think it was up cause it felt like a screaming flow. When we got to Sue's you had to pull and pull to make it past the bend. When we turned the dive just rode the flow all the way out to Catfish. The vis about 20-30', dark and a lot of particular in the water. Dive 2 the vis was about the same, made it to Friedman's which had very muddy surface water. On the ride out jumped to the sewer which vis seemed to be better and jumped to Rabbit hole to check it out.
9/8/2008 Dave Shuman 20-30 We entered Catfish at about 10AM. A lot of OW students in the basin. An uncomfortable number playing pretty far back in the cavern. Vis was OK, tons of particulate. Flow is down. Interesting mud banks built up at the entrance to downstream towards Manatee.
9/1/2008 Stanley Fatmax 10-75 vis poor up to freidman's, may 20ft. after freidman's, the further you go the better the vis.
8/31/2008 Shirley Kasser 30' Nice dive, my first here. The basin was clear enough for my daughter to enjoy an OW dive after our team enjoyed a great cave dive. No crowds, nice park.
8/30/2008 Andy Pitkin 10-30 Water level at Catfish is covering the bottom 2 steps. Vis was 40' in the cavern, 30' in the main passage to the Chalkley bypass jump, and about 40' in the Sewer tunnel (slightly worse than usual).
8/28/2008 Elisha Gibson 10-30 Worst dive I have ever experienced here. Extreme flow, very low visibility. Accompanied two friends who had never been here before, they gave up at Sue's Sink... 46 min dive, no deco (haha), and 93 ft max depth. We dove around 9:30...I wanted to do a dive an hour or so after high tide but everyone was so discouraged that it didn't happen...I am really curious to make the comparison.
7/26/2008 ARY 15-40 Plenty of ow divers and swimmers - Saturday. Viz sucks from CFH to F. Flow was down (timing was right after the high tide breaks) however just before Sue there was a place were flow was really strong. From F it was clear for probably 1000' then viz sucks again. Viz cleared up again at 2000' past F. We turned at 2100' as one scooter battery died. At the headspring viz was bad and flow was way down i even did 40-30 ft deco stop in the "fire hydrant".
6/18/2008 ARY varies 50'-100' No crowd - Wednesday. Entered Catfish approx at 12:30 water level just below the last wide step. Sink covered w/duckweed. We were first of total 2 teams today. From Catfish to Friedman viz was not very good. We scootered piggybacking on one G-26 due to second scooter failure past marker 800 to the shallow room w/depth 25'. It cleared up upstream from Friedman. Almost no flow. We turned and swam back to enjoy the cave. On the way back Friedman skylight was asking for a picture taking colorful and clear - blue sky, trees and fluffy clouds. Tied off loose sewer line to projection. Exited approx at 1400 from Catfish although spring head exit was optionally accessible. While we were diving water level was up 1 foot and last step was under water due to high tide coming up by Suwannee. Water taste bad.
6/7/2008 Buhlz 50 Went with Kev ! Great little sneak a peak dive! Flow is pretty strong and vis is nice. Kev had some prob w/ his computer but we managed ok. Not too many people there today. Entered Catfish and came out catfish. Catfish was REALLY clear!!!
4/6/2008 Buhlz 30 Met up with Kev, Alicia, Nicole, Jean and other nice folks and dove about 300 downstream from Freedman. Great dive, lots of flow! I just can't get tired of Manatee, We turned back because of flow and traversed out of manatee's main entrance. It was raining pretty badly and the mosquitoes were practically carrying you away. BRING LOTS OF "OFF"!!!!! Great people, and dive!
3/20/2008 Rich 80 Flow is way down and the cave is beautiful, vis probably the best I've seen....
3/5/2008 Elisha Gibson 60 feet Wow! Dove from Catfish and made it past Friedman's with air to spare! Didn't even break a sweat. Flow was way down, visibility excellent. Water is way up in Manatee and Catfish...there is talk of a possible reversal. Headed back tomorrow!
2/29/2008 Jean Nelson 50-70 feet. Did a dive from Catfish to Friedman's (swimming) and then back out to Manatee Head Spring. Visibility was excellent in the system and the flow was still low. Very little particulate in the water. Flow at Manatee Head spring was very managable (no uncontrollable spit-out).
2/20/2008 Elisha Gibson 30 feet I loved Manatee so much the first time I dove it that I decided to introduce it to some friends. Unfortunately the flow was about 3 times as bad and the viz was about half what it was earlier in the week. We entered at Catfish and exited at Manatee again. This time I was the one hitting thirds, about 400 feet from Friedman! It was interesting to make it to the same spot minus 3-400 psi. I stuck my tongue out at Rich as he and John F scootered by. They were moving too fast to see it I guess. Coming out at Manatee was awful! My sidemount tanks were in front of me, my deco reg came unscrewed, and the exhaust t on my reg was missing after that exit... What a difference 3 days makes!
2/20/2008 Rich 50 - 75' Went riding with John F to just short of the water sampler. There's a lot of big particulate in the tunnel between Catfish and Friedmans, but the vis picks up the further back you go. We were informed that the flow was down, but this turned out not to be the case. Maybe this was why the swimming team in front of us gave us some jealous looks as we went by... :)
2/17/2008 Elisha Gibson 50 feet My first dive at Manatee...flow was not nearly what I expected. Could usually see the walls of the cave from the line, vice versa. We made it within 300 feet of Friedman when a member of the team hit thirds. We entered at Catfish and exited at Manatee. Exiting at Manatee was relatively easy, we let all the air out of our bladders and rode out, but could easily stop at any time.
1/7/2008 Stanley Fatmax 25 to friedman's - 50 after flow is about average. fairly high right at sue's, but swimable the rest of the way and really drops off past friedman's as the vis picks up.
12/10/2007 Billy Fowler 30 to 70 Started at Catfish and headed up the mainline for 50 minutes, just past the water monitor station around 5000ft from catfish, turned and headed out. 50min ride in 30min ride out, Boy is the flow up. Viz was about 30ft between Catfish and Friedmanís , just past the mud tunnel the Viz really clears up 70 . Had a great dive.
9/22/2007 Walter Pickel 20-30 Flow is remarkably down. Easy swim passed Friedman's and an eerily easy exit out of the head spring. Viz did improve passed Friedman's.
9/3/2007 Jim McMichael 40 & 70 Scootered From Catfish to Friedman' vis was cracklin past 2nd restriction Sign me up to help when someone wants to re-place line, many patches & old
8/11/2007 Ed Jackson 40 Went about 1500 feet from Catfish. The flow has increased since last month but still low. We noticed a bone just off the mainline at 900 feet. Also, during the traverse back to the head spring we saw a white or albino catfish swimming among the usual color.
8/8/2007 Rich 40 and 90 Dove upstream from Catfish and from Friedman's today. Vis is MUCH better upstream from Friedman's, but still decent down by Catfish. Flow is down, but still there.....
6/24/2007 Joe Tegg 40ft Vis was a decent 30-40ft the until past the milk tunnel where it cleared to about 50ft all the way to about 4100ft. Good time to dive it as the flow was not to bad.
6/4/2007 Rich Varied Flow was definitely down, we stayed on the trigger for just under an hour from Catfish, sunlight from Sue's sink looked spectacular, upstream from Friedmans vis was the best I've ever seen at Manatee. Catfish was choked with duckweed.
5/25/2007 Walter Pickel 40' Flow is terribly down -- bittersweet. We did 2 dives; one to Friedman and the other to Sue's. The good part of the bittersweet dive was that the water was a nice blue. Daylight from Sue's was well worth the dark trip.
5/12/2007 Sam M 50 My buddy and I dove about a 1000 feet up the mainline, vis was good, and the flow wasn't kicking too hard. Flow wasn't too bad headed in, but still a decent ride out. All in all great conditions.
4/28/2007 Eric Deister 50 feet My buddy and I went upstream from Catfish to almost Friedmanís, flow was way down and vis was around 50 feet. Nice time to dive it
4/14/2007 Jim McMichael 40 Made several more dives since last post - 4/14 made it from Manatee to Catfish "Yes Up-stream"
3/19/2007 Bert Wilcher 40' Swam upstream from catfish, flow managable and vis about 40'. Some particulate in the flow, but down a bit from our last dive.
3/3/2007 Jim McMichael 30-40' Good dive, starting to learn the system(upstream from catfish)
2/17/2007 Bob Schulte 20'-30' Water level at catfish is down, interesting getting in and out with the bottom of the stars about a foot above the water. Flow is the same as it always is - high.
11/6/2006 Alex Mendez 60 the flow was a bit less than normal but not by much pretty nice vis overall lots of duck weed on the surface
10/15/2006 Walter Pickel 15'-40' Did a nice scooter dive starting at Catfish. Viz is poor (<20') with heavy particulate until just before Friedman's. Then it clears up to around 40'. Flow is strong as expected. Very few divers there as well.
10/1/2006 John LaManna 50-60' The cave was really pumping. We did a scooter dive, and I had to kick along with the scooter on high to get thru some of the smaller areas, especially Sue's sink. Went in aprox. 2400', tried to swim some upstream, and abandoned that idea after about 6 minutes. Lots of particulate in water causing backscatter with lights.
8/20/2006 R. Taylor 40' Entered at Catfish Sink and went to exit on Manatee, reversed and swam back to a couple of hundred feet past Sue's sink, then reversed again and rode the current exiting from 45' to 22' in about 7 seconds. Did a long deco at 22' in the basin. Water has a lot of particulate in it, poor for photography. Duckweed covered Catfish making it dark and gloomy. Sand bottom very forgiving and silt free. Flow strong but not too difficult to swim against.
6/11/2006 Walter Pickel 30'-40' Made a nice dive after all of the OW students were out. Checked out the walls as well as the alternate upstream entrance -- worm hole. The viz wasn't bad for all of the people that were in the cavern and cleaned up nicely in the cave. We finished the dive by taking the downstream tunnel and exiting via the main spring.
4/21/2006 Marc 20' Very strong flow and very poor visibility. It was difficult to see anything from the cave other than the immediate area around the main line.
3/12/2006 TJ 30 Lots of duck weed on the surface, but I think we brought a large portion back to the truck with us. Flow was pumping pretty good, and it seem to increase around Sue Sink. Nice ride out !!!!!
8/28/2005 Walter Pickel 30' We did upstream to Sue's Sink and the viz was around 30'. The flow wasn't bad at all -- seemed down if anything.

Second dive we played around in Catfish and headed downstream and exited from the main spring. The viz was actually a bit better downstream up to about 40'.
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System Depth Cave Cavern OW Last Report Distance (mi)
 Overview Information Available for Manatee Springs - Friedmans Sink  Manatee Springs - Friedman's Sink 105 True False False 7/13/2021 0.2
 Overview Information Available for Fanning Springs  Fanning Springs False False True 6/12/2011 7.2
 Overview Information Available for Gunpower Sink  Gunpower Sink 120 False True False 8