Divers Find Ancient Underwater Forest in Gulf of Mexico

Divers Find Ancient Underwater Forest in Gulf of Mexico

Ancient Underwater Forest

Hurricane Katrina unleashed massive destruction along the Gulf Coast in 2005, but it likely also unearthed a primeval forest at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to LiveScience. Divers discovered a 50,000-year-old ancient underwater forest of Bald Cypress trees off the Alabama coast in the years following the hurricane with wood so well-preserved that you could still smell the unmistakable scent of fresh Cypress sap when you cut into it, according to Ben Raines, who was reportedly among the first to explore the forest.

Why Was the Ancient Forest So Well-Preserved?

The wood’s preservation was aided by the lack of oxygen while buried under sediment for so many years, the article explained. The Cypress stumps currently foster a thriving underwater ecosystem full of fish, anemones, crabs and other sea creatures for which it serves as an artificial reef of sorts.

A Quickly Fading Forest

However, now that the Cypress forest has been exposed, it’s only a matter of time — likely only two years — before wood-boring marine life destroys it, the article noted. Therefore, there’s a small and significant window for it to be explored by researchers hoping to learn more about the climate history of the Gulf of Mexico from thousands of years ago. A team of scientists consisting of a dendrochronologist (a person who researches tree rings) and a geographer are applying for grants to further explore the forest.

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