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.


BDR said...

Was there once with Earthgirl on side-trip to visit mom-in-law in Florida, if ever nearby will again.

Also, I've never been, on your recommendation I really wanna Congaree

Mongo, At The Moment said...

Fantastical shapes. You can feel wind and smell the tidal effusion just looking at the photos.

Interestingly: The Scrabble dictionary allows "Tump" (11 points), and says it is "a clump of vegetation... a mound". Meanwhile, Texas Monthly (well... Texas), claims it is an intransitive verb, "chiefly Southern: To tip or turn over, especially accidentally — usually used with over. 'Sooner or later everybody tumps over. Nothing to worry about if you don't get caught under the canoe'. ” —Don Kennard

Please excuse me; gotta go prove I'm not a robot...

davidly said...

Wow. Is the sea foam in that final shot so thick that it remains or did you capture it before its receding?

Jim H. said...

@BDR: If you've ever been, you'll never forget. When I walked on the beach (was there once on a side trip about 18 years ago), it all came back. Hard. It is a haunting feel.

@Mongo: Yes, "chiefly Southern". It me.

@Davidly: Yes the sea foam remained almost like a snowfall, there was so much of it. With the spindrift being blown back into the breeze coming in from the sea.