The riddle of the Carolina bays

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Krajick, Kevin, and Cameron Davidson. “The riddle of the Carolina bays.” Smithsonian 28.6 (September 1997): 44-. (10 pages)


Descriptive, interestingly written overview of these eastern coastal plain wetland depressions, most located in North and South Carolina but existing from southern New Jersey to northern Florida. The bays, with high sand ridges and low, swampy interiors, are all oriented northwest to southeast. The majority of the bays have been drained, logged, and planted with crops. Scientists are beginning to study those that have not, finding birds, plants, and amphibians that have received little attention. The bays (which are depressions, not ocean inlets) got their name from the fact that many of them are dense with bay trees, holly, and other waxy-leaved evergreens. The bays range from one acre to fifteen square miles in size. Most of the bays are in the Cape Fear region of North and South Carolina. Bladen County, N.C. is 45% bays; in Robeson County, geographer Tom Ross has identified about 8,000 bays.

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Carolina bays
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8 photographs
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