State of springs highlighted in upcoming photo exhibit
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:36 p.m.
For decades, Gainesville photographer John Moran has tried to capture the unique beauty of Florida's nature through his photographs. In that same time, however, he turned a blind eye to the less picturesque signs of environmental changes.
That changed more than a year ago when he set out to document those changes, specifically to the state's freshwater springs.
The results of that project, entitled Springs Eternal: Florida's Fragile Fountains of Youth, will be exhibited at the Florida Museum of Natural History starting March 23.
The exhibit features more than 60 photographs, many comparing and contrasting photos taken by Moran over a 20-year period.
"For several years I was really in denial. I simply would turn away. I was avoiding it and I certainly wasn't taking pictures of that. I just chose to look away," said Moran.
The seeds of the project were planted after Moran went to visit the site of one of his favorite photos, which was taken in the Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Columbia County. In that photo, Moran put lights in the water and photographed it at night, creating a luminous, turquoise effect.
"It was one of the most amazing pictures I've made ... I went back about two years ago and the spring was bone dry. I was devastated, but I got right back in my canoe and didn't take a picture of it," he said.
The state of that spring stuck with him.
Many springs are suffering from declining flow due to lack of rainfall and increased pumping of groundwater, Moran said. He set out to reproduce his previous springs photos, some taken more than 20 years earlier.
"The changes are startling. A lot of our springs have fallen on hard times," Moran said.
He hopes the photos on display at the Museum of Natural History at UF can help change people's attitudes about water consumption.
"We have a very wasteful culture. I think it's time for a fundamental change in attitude about consumption," he said.
Robert Knight, director of the Florida Springs Institute, believes Moran's exhibit may go a long way in convincing others that measures must be taken to preserve the springs.
"It's certainly more effective than scientific data. It's so much more visual. It reaches a broader audience. I have given talks with John's photos and you get gasps from the people in the audience," said Knight, who has conducted decades of research on Florida's springs and wetlands.
Knight said many of the state's waterways are fed by springs.
"We have data from about 150 springs in Florida and well over 60 percent of them are contaminated with nitrates above standards. The flow is down significantly, between 20 and 30 percent," Knight said.
The exhibit will run through December and then go on the road throughout Florida. As part of promoting the exhibit, nine Regional Transit System buses in Gainesville will be wrapped in photos that are part of the collection.
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