Series Location in Silver Springs

silver_springs_florida, underwater film, ocean art, Sea Hunt, LLoyd BridgesOcala, Florida – More than 100 of the adventure series “Sea Hunt” were filmed in the gin clear output of Silver Springs, near Ocala, Florida.  Lloyd Bridges portrayed Mike Nelson, a one-time Navy frogman who in the space of 30 minutes, as the online version of Skin Diver magazine once noted, “got into trouble, got out of trouble, rescued a damsel, caught the bad guys and neatly wrapped things up with a safety message.”

In 1965 a state law was enacted to “curtail’ activities that would “interfere, molest, disturb, or otherwise create a nuisance or hazard” that affected the marine life or water craft both in Silver Springs and Rainbow Springs.

One of those activities identified was scuba diving. The bill allowed the operators of the springs to set aside sites for swimming and diving, but prohibited diving within 3,000 yards — or more than a mile and a half — of the springs’ headwaters: The lawmaker added exceptions for professional photographers, performers and the television and film industries.

Due to complaints of diver vandalism,  Marion County banned scuba diving at Silver Springs — as well as Rainbow Springs and Silver Glen Springs under a series of local ordinances in June 1986.


Will Scuba Diving Return?

Now Silver Springs is slated to become a state park, and enticing ecotourists is viewed as a must.  A drive is on to allow scuba divers to return to the springs. This week the Marion County Commission has directed County Administrator to research what steps are necessary to allow scuba divers to return to the springs. These laws and regulations must be repealed if the state wants to attract dive tourism to the springs.

Commissioner Carl Zalak, who raised the issue of repealing the ban, said creating an opportunity for divers to explore these “great, incredible assets” in Marion County could boost international tourism to the community.

“There’s great interest to be able to dive the springs (and) go into those caves and cavern system,” Commissioner Stan McClain added.

Possible Eco-tourism Market

McClain noted that some entrepreneurs likely stand ready to dive into a promising ecotourism market once Silver Springs reverts to public management in October.

“Certainly,” he said, “we don’t want to have something on our part that prohibits that.”

Photo: Alan Youngblood/Star Banner