Scuba divers typically dive for recreational purposes, or to research and examine the unique organisms that lie beneath the sea. New aquatic life forms are frequently discovered, but many would not expect to find what a group of scuba divers found off of the coast of Alabama: an underwater forest.
The owner of a dive shop had been told by local fisherman, of an area swarming with fish and other wildlife. The shop owner decided to dive down to find what was attracting all of these creatures. He uncovered an amazing discovery and then proceeded to keep the location a secret until telling Ben Raines in 2012.
Reportedly uncovered by the fierce hurricane Katrina, Raines, the executive director of the Weeks Bay Foundation, and one of the first divers to examine the forest, believes that the Bald Cypress forest has been hiding within the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico for over 50,000 years.
A 50,000-year-old forest appears under 60 feet of water off the coast of Alabama. http://t.co/xqHgKfz4p0
— NYT Science (@nytimesscience) July 8, 2013
After the discovery of the forest, Raines put together a team of scientists including Grant Harley, a dendrochronologist (someone who studies tree rings) at the University of Southern Mississippi. The trees are said to be the size of trucks, and it is believed by Raines, and other researchers, that their time to explore the forest may be ticking.
"The longer this wood sits on the bottom of the ocean, the more marine organisms burrow into the wood, which can create hurdles when we are trying to get radiocarbon dates," Harley said. "It can really make the sample undatable,