The ocean has been rising since the last ice age, when so much water was tied up in glaciers that the seas were 300-400 feet lower.  As the seas have risen certain ecosystems have had to move inland, as their original habitat submerged.

One of the most interesting habitats is the cypress swamp.  Cypress wood resists rot, and when covered by sand dunes, or sphagnum moss in bogs, they can last for thousands of years.  This is not only interesting to scientists, who love to study the tree-rings for hints about ancient weather; it is also interesting to lumberjacks, who do not have many standing cypress to cut and in mill into rot-resisting boards.

If you ever have an afternoon to devote to idle study,  it is very interesting to learn how people over the past several hundred years have “mined” old cypress logs from swamps, dragged the logs off to saw mills, and produced lumber as good as that from living trees.

In some cases logs were lost during the original harvest and sank to the bottom of rivers and streams, and are called, “sinkers.”  Originally it wasn’t worthwhile to retrieve them, however with the wood’s increase in value it is now a costly but profitable enterprise.

In other cases the logs are truly ancient, and can be gigantic.  Bald cypress trees are recorded to be ten feet across at the bottom. Finding such a log in a marsh where, in some cases, cypress has never been known to  grow, is a bonanza.  It has also led to some interesting, (shall we say,) “discussions,” between environmentalists and local inhabitants who have “mined” swamps for generations.

The oldest log I have heard of was purported to be 40,000 years old.  At this point you can get a jolly good fight going between the scientist who wants to study the tree rings, the lumberman who wants planks, and the environmentalist who wants the swamp untouched.

Once you know that background, the secrecy involved in the latest Alabama find becomes more understandable. (You also have to add in the reluctance of fishermen to share the location of good fishing grounds.)

In any case, its an interesting find:



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