27 March 2021

Jekyll Island: Rising seas, Sinking ships, Spindrift

Jekyll Island, GA, is one of those places you can never forget. A barrier island of the coast of Brunswick, its inland salt marsh is a unique ecosystem of subtle beauty and calm. Its live oak trees dripping with beards of epiphyte Spanish moss are hauntingly lovely. There are bike trails and beaches and a historical district. We saw kingfishers and osprey and herons and cranes and all manner of sea birds. There were alligators, too, though they were scarce because it was too cool for them last week. But that is not what makes Jekyll so unique.

On the north end of the island you will find Driftwood Beach. There is not really any driftwood there, but it is a bone beach—a maritime forest being reclaimed by the salt sea. I can think of no other place in the world quite like it. Hundreds of oak trees (mostly) denuded of their leaves and bark and moss lie in the sand and sea. There is a starkness, a sadness, to the beauty of this place. It's almost impossible to capture the feeling of this place in words—whether at sunny low tide or frothy high tide. It sticks with you.

And now, just across the St. Simons Sound, you can see the hull of the Golden Ray, a massive cargo carrier that capsized there in 2019. There were thousands of automobiles inside the ship when it tumped over. It has an even larger crane arcing over the ship which is being used to slice up the husk piece by piece.

Enough with words. I will let the pictures below tell the story. If you click a pic, a slide show will pop up.

The subtle beauty of salt marsh.
Before: Live oak dripping with beards of Spanish moss.
Before: Spanish moss.
After: A solitary oak being reclaimed by the sea.
After: Oaks denuded of leaves and Spanish moss.
Bone beach with capsized container ship across St. Simons Sound.
More of the same.
The dead maritime forest.

Sun setting behind the dead forest.
Rocks have been brought to shore up beach erosion. No help for these trees though.
Silhouettes against the sky.
More of the same.
Stark against the sky.
Dying a stark and lonely death.
Dead trees for miles.
Rising tide, distant capsized ship and arc crane.
Endless sculptural shapes. Trunks stripped bare by the rising ocean, even.
A forest dying.
Rising tide, tumped ship.
Sea foam and spindrift like a snowy day.