Size: 7 x 10
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 150 color photos

Outdoors & Nature
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Carolina Bays

Wild, Mysterious, and Majestic Landforms

Robert C. Clark and Tom Poland



Published: Jan 22 2020


Published: Jan 22 2020

OA Ebook
Published: Jan 22 2020


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

There is a strange beauty at the heart of every mystery, and the mystery of the Carolina Bays is an enigma that is lushly, uniquely beautiful.

How did these odd geomorphological features come to be formed in the landscape in the first place, with their uniform shapes and matching elliptical orientations scattered across the Carolinas? There are many hypotheses but no definitive answers. Why are these inland phenomena even called "bays?" There is no clear answer to that either.

The best definition of these features are "temporary, isolated freshwater wetlands," variously described as "high or flatwater ponds, wet weather lakes, or vernal pools," often identified more accurately as "pocosins," and they are ecological wonders, full of all manner of amphibians and reptiles, insects and birds, wildlife and plants—many of them exotic and rare. What also defines them is their uncommon beauty.

Featuring more than one hundred-fifty color images, Carolina Bays takes you from an aerial perspective of these unusual bays to an on-the-ground safari, from frogs that croak and bark and boom to skinks that skim across the water as if on skis, and on to squawking herons to black-and-yellow polka-dotted caterpillars. There are growling alligators and four hundred-year-old trees and delicate yellow-fringed orchids. Life is found in astounding abundance.

These wetlands are unique and almost immeasurably ancient; as is to be expected in the modern world, they are threatened by human intervention. Such diverse habitats and their rich, unmatched biodiversity call out for preservation and restoration. The bays are not only visited and documented by the authors; they make an impassioned case for respecting how important these singular formations are for the health of the planet. You could not find more able guides.

Tom Poland graduated from the University of Georgia and is the former managing editor of South Carolina Wildlife Magazine. He is the author of South Carolina Country Roads, Reflections of South Carolina (volumes 1 and 2), and Georgialina: A Southland As We Knew It. He has received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor.

Robert C. Clark is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and his photographs have appeared in National Geographic books, Newsweek, and the Smithsonian Magazine, among other publications, as well in photographic awards annuals such as Print and Communications Arts. Together with Poland he co-authored Reflections of South Carolina (volumes 1 and 2).

"Through eloquent writing and spectacular photography, Poland and Clark bring to life the magnificence of one of the world's most enigmatic ecosystems. Although their long-debated origin remains shrouded in a mist of mystery, productive Carolina bay wetlands house a wealth of biodiversity. This book confirms their indisputable environmental value."—Whit Gibbons, University of Georgia

"Another splendid collaboration of writer Tom Poland and photographer Robert Clark of their explorations of one of the Palmetto State's most mysterious geological wonders: the hauntingly beautiful and biologically rich Carolina bays. Poland's absorbing and informative narrative with Clark's ample and artful photographs make this an excellent read and a worthy addition to any reader's collection of outdoor South Carolina books."—Ben McC. Moïse, award-winning author of Ramblings of a Lowcountry Game Warden: A Memoir

"The Carolina bays ecosystem is one of the most intriguing and mysterious in the world for those of us who love and study them. In this book, my friend Tom Poland unravels that mystery with his extensive knowledge of this unusual phenomena. Featuring Robert Clark's stunningly beautiful photographs, this book is an excellent exploration of this unique part of the world."—Chuck Leavell, renowned environmentalist and keyboardist with the Allman Brothers Band, the Rolling Stones, and many others

"'The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder,' wrote British author G. K. Chesterton. He would be delighted by this book, as I am, for it inspires wonder at the natural wonders we call Carolina bays."—Glenn Oeland, National Geographic Magazine

"The authors remind us that they are not scientists, and yet their work is packed with science, and it presents the exquisite natural history of Carolina bays. May their efforts stimulate continuing energy into the preservation of these precious, dwindling ecosystems."—John B. Nelson, A.C. Moore Herbarium

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