50,000-year-old forest of fresh trees found

Friday 9 Aug 2013

Scuba divers in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Alabama have uncovered a primeval underwater forest buried under ocean sediments, according to an article in Live Science. The Bald Cypress forest, protected in an oxygen-free environment for more than 50,000 years, was likely uncovered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said Ben Raines, executive director of the non-profit Weeks Bay Foundation and one of the first divers to explore the site.

The forest contains Cypress trees so well-preserved that when they are cut, they still smell like fresh Cypress sap, Raines said. The site spans a roughly two-mile area about 60 feet below the surface, and is located 12 miles off the coast of Alabama near Gulf Shores.

"A fisherman stumbled across something on his depth finder - a strange ledge - so he started fishing it and caught a lot of fish there," Raines said. "He asked a friend who is a diver if he would go to the location and see what was down there." The diver descended to the spot and found numerous tree stumps, said Raines, who at the time was a reporter at the Press-Register in Mobile.

But the dive shop owner refused to disclose the location for several years, Raines said, because scuba divers often take artefacts from shipwrecks and other sites. But Raines didn't give up. "I pestered him (diver friend) until he agreed to take me out there.' When he finally dove to the area last August, Raines said he encountered "a magical, enchanted, otherworldly place with trees all around that should never be on the bottom of the ocean." More >>.
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