We hope that each of you, our readers, will appreciate this article we present about these 3 Wondrous North American Wetlands. It was certainly our pleasure to gather the information for you. May it provide you with both education and increased awareness.
Certainly, these locations listed herein represent only a portion of the wonders found throughout this amazing region. It’s our belief, though, that they serve as excellent representations of the marvels found here. Check out some of our other articles, as well.
Okefenokee Swamp Facts
- Leading off this article about these 3 Wondrous North American Wetlands is the mesmerizing feature named Okefenokee Swamp.
- This stunning creation of natural processes most frequently goes by the english language translation equating to the one used here. It currently has no other general name in english. It’s a true natural marvel in the region of the world in which it formed.
- The distinctive title derives from one of several Native American names, in different indigenous languages. It most directly translates as meaning Land of the Trembling Earth. Historically, many variants of this spelling appear in historical literature.
- Regardless of the term one uses when speaking of it, the site remains remarkable. The local Indigenous People knew of its existence for untold centuries, prior to the arrival of European explorers. It’s unclear, though, when these first spotted it.
- Thankfully, the magnificent Okefenokee Swamp today enjoys a great deal of protection from the depredations of man. Most of its expanse was formed into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in 1937. Other sections also form the Okefenoke Wilderness.
- Their status affords it a relatively strong protection. It also became a National Natural Landmark in 1974, an received the status of being named one of the seven natural wonders of its region. It also forms the largest swamp of its kind in its part of the world.
Okefenokee Swamp Physical Description
The breathtaking Okefonokee Swamp distinguishes itself due to far more than just its distinctive name. That’s because it contains bountiful natural wonders, both in flora and fauna. Yet the remarkable site also boasts some truly impressive statistics in its own right.
Overall, the formation holds a generally saucer-shaped, yet rectangular form. It also measures approximately an incredible 25 mi (40 km) in width. In terms of length, though, this intriguing product of natural forces measures an awesome 40 mi (65 km).
These impressive dimensions provide it width a total area equaling an astonishing 600 sq mi (1,550 sq km)! Put in other terms, however, its area equals 438,000 sq acres (177,000 sq hectares). This makes it the largest swamp of its specific type on its entire continent.
Despite its enormous total area, the majestic Okefenokee Swamp remains extremely shallow. Even after heavy rains, the maximum depth of the site rarely exceeds 9 ft (2.74 m). As a general overall principle, the swamp maintains an average depth of only 2 ft (0.6 m).
Perhaps its most distinctive feature, however, are the multiple floating islands it contains. These repesent enormous mats of peat which actually support entire ecosytems. These structures host a mixture of large numbers of hardwood trees, shrubs, and cypress trees!
Okefenokee Swamp Location, Formation, and Ecology
The mesmerizing Okefenokee Swamp formed in a region of the world well known for its geological marvels. That general area might surprise some people, though. That’s because the site lies within the boundaries of what’s now known as North America.
There, it sits inside the borders of the United States. Looking more closely still, the explorer discovers that it resides in the approximate southeastern part of the country. The great majority of it falls inside the boundaries of the state of Georgia, with a tiny piece in Florida.
This amazing work of Nature isn’t complete, but in fact continues to build upon itself. Researchers estimate it began forming roughly 6,500 years ago. Around that time peat began to accumulate in a shallow basin. This formed the edge of an ancient coastal region.
Rains from a large portion of the surrounding region flow into this basin. That serves as the primary source of the water for the swamp. A few small natural springs also serve to augment this. Even the occasional hurricane in the region helps maintain its levels.
The marvelous Okefenokee Swamp plays host to a robust and thriving ecosystem. This includes a surprising variety and quantity of flora. Multiple tree species appear here, including bald cypress, oaks, and evergreens. Several carnivorous plants also thrive here.
Large populations of avian species also live here. This includes such creatures as egrets, herons, ibises, and cranes, among others. It’s especially famous for its amphibians and reptiles, however. This includes frogs, turtles, lizards, snakes, and numerous alligators.
- Next up among our choices for inclusion in the compendium of 3 Wondrous North American Wetlands appears the breathtaking Everglades.
- Thshort, this term amzingly serves as the name of an astounding natural ecosystem unlike any other currently existing on the planet. This incredible formation actually represents a unique area of naturally occurring tropical wetlands.
- The first written mention of this marvelous work of Nature occurred on the maps on early Spanish explorers. However, those who composed the maps had not actually seen the site, but relied on reports of the local indigenous populations.
- Those same Native American populations, though, had long known of its existence. In fact, evidence indicates that the region has been inhabited for more than 15,000 years. Various tribes lived there, including the Calusa and Tequesta.
- Regrettably, as modern man encroached on the region, large sections of the site were drained. Beginning in 1882, numerous projects undertook this modification in an effort to create large sections of both farmland and urban areas.
- Quite thankfully, in modern times, the remarkable Everglades now enjoys a certain amount of legal protection. Both the Ramsar Convention and UNESCO currently designate this fantastic area as a Wetland Area of Global Importance.
Everglades Physical Description
The precise dimensions and area of the Everglades remains, quite literally somewhat fluid. This occurs as a wholly natural result of its very nature, though. Nevertheless, the region officially considered to comprise it covers an area of roughly 1.5 million acres (607,028 ha).
It also comprises a component of a large drainage basin, which accounts for its prodigious quantities of moisture. The formation further actually represents a very slow-moving body of water, though some pockets remain stationary for extended periods of time.
Although several large ecosystems exist in the Everglades, the single greatest one remains composed of areas of sawgrass marsh. Unlike any other wetland on the planet, this region maintains itself primarily through the regular, frequently heavy, rainfall amounts.
Everglades Location, Climate, and Ecosystems
The dazzling and wholly unique marvel of Nature that man now calls the Everglades formed in a part of the world that may surprise some people. That’s due to the fact that, though it has a tropical climate itself, the surrounding area remains a temperate zone.
In point of fact, this wonder formed in a small corner of the continent of North America. That exact location often amazes those who first learn of the remarkable site. More precisely, however, it lies in the southern portion of the state of Florida, in the United States.
The state itself lies almost directly across the dividing line between tropical and subtropical zones. The Everglades lie in the southern portion of that, which provides it with its tropical type climate. The majority of its rainfall occurs in the wet season, from May to October.
Others are present, but the great majority of the Everglades is composed of three separate ecosystems. The line of demarcation, though, also remains quite blurred. Sawgrass represents the single largest of these, and remains perhaps its best known feature.
Another of these is formed by large areas of sloughs. These are large, freely flowing channels of water wending through the sawgrass. While their width understandably varies, these typically maintain a depth about 3 ft (0.9 m) greater than that of the sawgrass.
The formation known as wet prairies rounds out the three. They also tend to serve as border areas between the other two ecosystems. These have the greatest diversity of flora, and the covering layer of water only averages about 4 in (10 cm) in overall depth.
Atchafalaya Basin Facts
- Closing out this listing of 3 Wondrous North American Wetlands, the stunning location known as Atchafalaya Basin maks its presence felt.
- This wonderland of unique and magnificent sights most frequently goes by the somewhat hard to pronounce name. Yet the wonder also holds another, extremely similar name. That’s because it’s also often referred to as the Atchafalya Swamp.
- Regardless of which term one chooses to employ, however, it remains a marvel of Nature. It also holds an important ecological importance. That’s due to the fact that it represents the most extensive natural formation of its kind in its part of the world.
- Local populations of Indigenous Peoples knew of its existence for centuries, of course. Members of the Chitimacha tribe formed the first known inhabitants of the region. Several of their most important villages, in fact, appeared in and around the feature.
- It remains unclear when the very first sighting of the natural marvel by European explorers occured, though. French explorer C. C. Robin made one of the earliest known written accounts of it, however. This he did while exploring the area in the year 1803.
- Although the Atchafalaya Basin does not currently appear on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s been proposed. It does, however, serve as the site of the Atchafalaya Wildlife Refuge. The government established this in 1984, to protect local species.
Atchafalaya Basin Physical Description
The awe-inspiring Atchafalaya Basin fully merits admiration and appreciation for multiple qualities. Though not the most important, its sheer size alone nevertheless boggles the mind. Here, Nature seems to have worked overtime to provide an example of its majesty.
Obviously, its dimenisons vary from location to location. Overall, though, it averages a width of approximately 20 mi (32 km). Being highly elongated in shape, it also boasts a length of roughly 150 mi (240 km). This gives it an area of 2,201 sq mi (5,700 sq km).
But the site also boasts numerous other attributes to garner appreciation. In this case, this includes the kind of amazing natural formations our images present. That includes an extraordinarily wide variety of ecosystems contained with the boundaries of one structure.
In general, the remarkable Atchafalaya Basin principally qualifes as a combination of swamps and wetlands. Yet this incredible natural structure also forms an enormous river delta system. This forms where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico meet.
At that location, though, its nature rapidly transforms into yet another type of intriguing ecosystem. Due to the merging of the running freshwater and the saltwater of the gulf, it forms its own unique system. It then qualifies as what’s known as a brackish estuary.
Atchafalaya Basin Location, Formation, and Ecology
The Atchafalaya Basin formed in a portion of the world already well known for its abundance of remarkable natural features. Indeed, this region abounds with such wonders. That’s due to the fact that it appears in a specific part of the continent of North America.
This wonder of geological processes formed in what now constitutes the United States. More specifically, the site lies in the state of Louisiana. Though not the only such formation in the area, it remains unique in very special way. It’s the only one that’s still growing!
The exact time frame during which the marvel formed remains undetermined. Science knows, though, that it started relatively recently, during the current Holocene epoch. That means that it likely began its formation sometime within the last 11,000 years or so.
Throughout this period, it’s further maintained a strong relationship with the Mississippi River. The Atchafalaya River also continues to provide it with fresh supplies of sediment. The ongoing growth continues at the mouth of the river and the Wax Lake outlet.
The Atchafalaya Basin contains a unique mixture of forest and water. Currently, various types of forest habitats cover roughly 70 % of its area. Sections of marsh and open water comprise the remainder. It now forms the largest section of floodplain forest in the country.
It’s best known for its cyprus-tupelo swamps. These cover an incredible 260,000 acres (110,000 ha). It’s also home to a wide variety of wildlife. This includes the Louisiana Black Bear, alligators, waterfowl, crayfish, and various migratory birds. Many rank as endangered.
3 Wondrous North American Wetlands
We hope that each of you thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from, this article we’ve written about these 3 Wondrous North American Wetlands. It’s also our hope that doing so has left you with either a new or renewed appreciation for such wonders of Nature.
Unfortunately, many other such features around the world now find themselves facing threats to their continued existence in an undamaged state. Many of those dangers, in fact, stem from the actions of mankind. We must do all we can to protect and preserve them all.