Clear Water By: Capt. T J Shea

Clearwater, Florida has a pleasant ring to it. If you’re a water bug, a very inviting one.  If I was looking for a beach or water-filled vacation, just by the name alone, Clearwater would have to be at the top of my list. First incorporated in 1891, Clearwater was given her name from one of the many springs that can be found on land, like right next to where the City Hall building stands today. There are also numerous springs just offshore and in the surrounding intercoastal waterways. When the land was being settled in the early 1800s, it was referred to as “clear water” due to the crystal-clear waters in Tampa Bay and adjacent streams. I am sure the waters of the Gulf of Mexico looked much the same back then.

Nowadays, our near shore waters often do not have that same clarity as years past. Not to say that our water is dirty or polluted, it’s just not as “clear” as it was before the area became such a popular destination to both live and visit. Rain, storm surge and runoff from our farmlands are all key contributing factors, which diminish the Gulf of Mexico’s visibility. Despite having the State’s largest artificial reef program for many years, this area is not known as a dive destination due to the lack of consistent clear water. That being said, if there was a time to get a glimpse of what the waters may have looked like when the Tocobaga Indians controlled the land. April is it.

Traditionally, April is the month when visibility is at its peak. Light winds are the order of the day and calm seas usually greet boaters and beachgoers the majority of the month. We don’t see much rain and the dry conditions on land keep fertilizers and pesticides out of our rivers and tributaries that feed the Gulf twice a day.  Crystal clear water can be found at our beaches and sandbars, and offshore visibility rivals that of many of our neighboring Caribbean vacation destinations. Top to bottom is actually accurate rather than an exaggerated fishtail. So, if you have not yet dusted off your scuba gear or given the Gulf a recent visibility check, come jump in with us and see what we have to offer.