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October 17, 2005

The Carolina Bays

The Carolina Bays are shallow depressions that run along the coastal plains from Georgia to Maryland, although they are found mostly in the Carolinas. A small portion of a bay holds more biodiversity than acres of the surrounding areas, making them a mystery to researchers still, since their discovery in the 1930s. They are home to a variety of organisms, including bears, deer, bobcats, orchids, pitcher plants, wire grass, and venus flytraps. In fact, the bays are the only place that venus flytraps are found in the wild.

They are also home to reptiles and amphibians as the dry land that they thrive on is then conveniently close to the water they need to lay eggs. When the bays are undisturbed, their life cycle is driven by fire. The dry areas burn every two to three years from the water's edge to the thick marshy shrubs that mark their border. Jim Luken, a biology professor at Coastal Carolina University, has been studying the Carolina Bays for over four years. He commented that although he has been to the bays hundreds of times, everytime he's out there, he sees something new.
The Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve covers 6000 acres. It is currently surrounded by two highways and there are plans for a third which will cut through one of the greatest concentration of bays. A new subdivision is also being built off of these highways that will bring over 22,000 homes to the edges of the bays, threatening the survival of these depressions.
If we continue to build wherever we want, we may never find out why theses depressions are there and the importance of them. The venus flytraps bring many visitors and tourists to the preserves, but even the preserves could be threatened if we dont stop to think about what the consequences of our actions are.

Posted by at October 17, 2005 2:44 PM | 2. In the News

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