Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Before today's winds arrived, the water was still at Goodson Lake at the far end of the boardwalk in the old-growth, cypress-tupelo swamp at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. From the upper deck of the recently-added observation tower, we were able to peer down into the black water and beyond!

Using a clear vessel to scoop some water from the swamp quickly shows that the water is nowhere near black. The water is stained slightly by the tannic acids leaching from the leaves and bark of the swamp's trees. It is the same process you use to make tea (those are bits of leaves in the bag), although your drink is many times darker than the water in the swamp. However, the water at Goodson Lake is somewhere between 10 and 12 feet deep, so peering into the water there means looking through more stain than at the lake's shallow edge. Deeper water (more stain) creates the appearance of darker water and therefore higher reflectivity. From the top of the tower, it appeared that we were standing hundreds of feet above the "bottom," even though we were a mere 15 feet above the water's surface. Looking into the reflection, clouds sped by like magic carpets that would surely catch us only after several seconds of free fall!

All the images of trees are the reflections in the water. The turtle is a Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta).

Images by Mark Musselman

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