Whilst reading My Sister’s Sister by Tracy Buchanan I was taken with her wondrous descriptions of the submerged forests her characters visit and not knowing anything about them I wanted to learn more. Join me as I travel (virtually of course, it’s free!) to seven of the submerged forests around the globe.
The forests are created either as a result of deliberate flooding by man whilst building dams or caused by natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes resulting in landslides. More rarely there are the submerged forests that appear and then disappear according to the seasons. I have written about all three variations in this post.
GREEN LAKE, STYRIA, AUSTRIA
This ethereal submerged forest is a natural phenomena formed every Spring as snow melts from the surrounding mountains. The name comes from the emerald-green of the water which raises by 10 m and floods the forest. Beneath in the crystal clear cold waters divers flock to witness the mysterious underwater trees, park benches, footbridges and footpaths. The park itself begins to be restored in July as the waters recede.
LAKE KAINDY, KAZAKHSTAN
This ghostly haunting submerged forest contains huge spruce trees which still retain their pines in the cold water. The imposing trunks rise like supernatural apparitions out of the water, as if still grasping for life.
This 400 m long lake was created following an earthquake in 1911 when a landslide formed a natural dam which filled with rainwater in the valley. Again because of the excellent visibility this lake has become highly popular with divers and unlike Green Lake there are no seasonal restrictions.
LAKE VOLTA, GHANA
This lake is the opposite of the two previous ones which showed so much life. Here huge trunks of dead hardwood trees stick straight out of the water in an eerie atmosphere of decay and destruction.
It was formed when the Akosombo Dam was built in the 1960s creating the world’s largest reservoir. Altogether 3,000 square miles was flooded. Following the building of the dam hundreds of people have been killed in collisions with the tree stumps in the water as the lake is a busy waterway for fishermen and travellers.
Recently it has become part of a massive commercial operation as underwater logging has begun and it is estimated that the total value of the tropical hardwood recovered can be in excess of $ 3 million.
Closer to home there is the submerged ancient forest off the coast of Norfolk. The age of the forest is estimated to be over 10,000 years old and it had been part of the Doggerland region which at one time allowed hunter-gatherers to travel across the land mass to Germany.
The lost forest was only uncovered following the storm of December 2013 when tens of thousands of tons of sand and gravel from the buried forest shifted under the power of the waves. Although in more obscured sea conditions this is still a significant find.
It is believed that the oak forest was knocked flat by glaciers and the compressed ginormous solid lumps of wood are visible. Divers are not only treated to the visual delights of the re-emergence of this ancient forest but also to the array of sea-life, such as star-fish and crabs, that have made a home for themselves in the knotholes of the trees.
LAKE PERIYAR, KERALA, INDIA
Enclosed within the Periyar National Park this lake was created in 1895 upon the building of the Mullaperiyar Dam. The alluring apocalyptic scene consists of lake punctuated with a graveyard of dead tree stumps situated in the midst of the stunning beauty of hills. The park itself boasts a large variety birds and mammals as well as being a famous tiger and elephant reserve.
LAKE BEZID, ROMANIA
Situated in Transylvania this haunting (and perhaps haunted?) lake was formed during the building the of the dam which resulted in the flooding of an entire village. The villagers were displaced in 1977 to make way for the dam.
Eerily the former Roman Catholic Church tower dominates the centre of the lake. The dichotomy of the normal in such an abnormal situation lends the area an aura of otherworldliness. The church itself was visible until its recent collapse. Dead tree stumps are dotted around the lake.
LAKE CADDO, TEXAS-LOUISIANA BORDER, USA
It was a delight to read about Lake Caddo on the Texas-Louisiana border. It is the world’s largest cypress forest and is home to living trees that are growing in their semi-submerged state. The sense of magic and mystic is palpable from the photos alone.
The lake is named after the Native Americans – Caddons or Caddo – who lived on the land until expelled during the 19th Century. Local legend tells of an earthquake in 1812 leading to the formation of the lake. Besides being a place of great natural beauty it is also renowned for the hundreds of sightings of Bigfoot in the area!
I hope you have enjoyed the tour of only a few of the world’s submerged forests. Have you visited any of these? Or perhaps even dived in the lakes? It would be interesting to hear from you. All comments are very welcome.