A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are “true” or swamp forests and “transitional” or shrub swamps. The water of a swamp may be fresh water, brackish water or seawater. A common feature of swamps is water stagnation.
Swamps are characterized by very slow-moving waters. They are usually associated with adjacent rivers or lakes. In some cases, rivers become swamps for a distance. Swamps are features of areas with very low topographic relief. Swamps were historically often drained to provide additional land for agriculture, and to reduce the threat of diseases born by swamp insects and similar animals. Swamps were generally seen as useless and even dangerous.
So get seem below 10 of the most stunning swamps in the world.
1. Candaba Swamp, the Philippines
Candaba Swamp is located in the municipality of Candaba, Pampanga, 60 km northeast of Manila. The swamp encompasses about 32,000 ha, composed of freshwater ponds, swamps and marshes surrounded by seasonally flooded grasslands.
During the wet season, the entire area becomes submerged underwater, but dries out during the months of November to April, when the swamp is converted to farmland by the locals. Rice and watermelon are usually planted, comprising the vegetation of the flood plain, together with patches of nipa palm and some mangrove species.
The Candaba swamp also acts as a natural flood retention basin during the rainy season. It holds the overflow from five smaller rivers (Maasim, San Miguel, Garlang, Bulu and Peñaranda), then drains into the larger Pampanga River.
The Candaba Swamp is one of the primary wetland sites in the Philippines. It has gained international recognition for being a preferred nesting place of many migratory birds, and is one of over 60 wetland sites monitored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
2. The Everglades, Florida, USA
The Everglades are a natural region of subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles (97 km) wide and over 100 miles (160 km) long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state.
The Everglades are shaped by water and fire, experiencing frequent flooding in the wet season and drought in the dry season. Writer Marjory Stone man Douglas popularized the term “River of Grass” to describe the saw grass marshes, part of a complex system of interdependent ecosystems that include cypress swamps, the estuarine mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland, and the marine environment of Florida Bay.
Human habitation in the southern portion of the Florida peninsula dates to 15,000 years ago. Two major tribes eventually formed in and around Everglades ecosystems: the Calusa and the Tequesta. After coming into contact with the Spanish in the late 16th century, both tribes declined gradually during the following two centuries. The Seminoles, a tribe of Creeks who assimilated other peoples into their own, made their living in the Everglades region after being forced there by the U.S. military in the Seminole Wars of the 19th century.
Draining the Everglades was first suggested in 1848, but was not attempted until 1882. Canals were constructed throughout the first half of the 20th century, and spurred the South Florida economy, prompting land development. However, problems with canals and floods caused by hurricanes forced engineers to rethink their drainage plans. In 1947, Congress formed the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, which built 1,400 miles (2,300 km) of canals, levees, and water control devices.
The South Florida metropolitan area grew substantially at this time and Everglades water was diverted to cities. Portions of the Everglades were transformed into farmland, where the primary crop was sugarcane. Approximately 50 percent of the original Everglades has been turned into agricultural or urban areas. When the construction of a large airport was proposed 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Everglades National Park, an environmental study predicted it would destroy the South Florida ecosystem. Restoring the Everglades then became a priority.
National and international attention turned to the environment in the 1970s, and UNESCO and the Ramsar Convention designated the Everglades as one of only three wetland areas of global importance. Restoration began in the 1980s with the removal of a canal that straightened the Kissimmee River. The water quality of Lake Okeechobee, a water source for South Florida, became a significant concern.
The deterioration of the environment was also linked to the diminishing quality of life in South Florida’s urban areas. In 2000, a plan to restore the Everglades was approved by Congress; to date, it is the most expensive and comprehensive environmental repair attempt in history. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was signed into law, but the same divisive politics that had affected the region for the previous 50 years have compromised the plan.
3. Tigris-Euphrates Swamp, West Asia
The Tigris–Euphrates river system is part of the palearctic Tigris-Euphrates alluvial salt marsh ecoregion, in the flooded grasslands and savannas biome, located in West Asia.
The general climate of the Salt Marsh is subtropical, hot and arid. At the northern end of the Persian Gulf is the vast floodplain of the Euphrates, Tigris, and Karun Rivers, featuring huge permanent lakes, marshes, and forest. The aquatic vegetation includes reeds, rushes, and papyrus, which support numerous species.
Areas around the Tigris and the Euphrates are very fertile. Marshy land is home to water birds, some stopping here while migrating, and some spending the winter in these marshes living off the lizards, snakes, frogs, and fish. Other animals found in these marshes are water buffalo, two endemic rodent species, antelopes and gazelles and small animals such as the jerboa and several other mammals.
The ecoregion is characterized by two large rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. The rivers have several small tributaries which feed into the system from shallow freshwater lakes, swamps, and marshes, all surrounded by desert. The hydrology of these vast marshes is extremely important to the ecology of the entire upper Persian Gulf. Historically, the area is known as Mesopotamia. As part of the larger Fertile Crescent, it saw the earliest emergence of literate urban civilization in the Uruk period, for which reason it is often dubbed the “Cradle of Civilization”.
4. La Digue Swamps, Seychelles
La Digue is the fourth largest inhabited island of the Seychelles, lying east of Praslin and west of Felicite Island. It has a population of about 2,000 people, who mostly live in the west coast villages of La Passe and La Réunion. It has an area of 10 km². La Digue is named after a ship in the fleet of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, who visited the Seychelles in 1768.
5. The Pantanal, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia
The Pantanal is a tropical wetland and one of the world’s largest wetland of any kind. Most of it lies within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into Mato Grosso and portions of Bolivia and Paraguay, sprawling over an area estimated at between 140,000 square kilometers (54,000 sq mi) and 195,000 square kilometres (75,000 sq mi).
Various subregional ecosystems exist, each with distinct hydrological, geological and ecological characteristics; up to 12 of them have been defined (RADAMBRASIL 1982). About 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping support a dense array of animal species.
The name “Pantanal” comes from the Portuguese word pântano, meaning wetland, bog, swamp or marsh. By comparison, the Brazilian highlands are locally referred to as the planalto, plateau or, literally, high plain.
The Pantanal is a huge, gently-sloped basin that receives runoff from the upland areas (the Planalto highlands) and slowly releases the water through the Paraguay River and tributaries. The formation is a result of the large, concave pre-Andean depression of the earth’s crust, related to the Andean orogeny of the Tertiary. It constitutes an enormous internal river delta, in which several rivers flowing from the surrounding plateau merge, depositing their sediments and erosion residues, which have been filling, throughout the years, the large depression area of the Pantanal. This area is also one of the distinct physiographic provinces of the larger Parana-Paraguay Plain area.
During the rainy season, the water in the Pantanal basin rises between two and five meters. Just as the Nile delta is fertile, arable land, so too are the Pantanal plains. The dramatic increase of water during the rainy season nourishes the producers of Pantanal, which in turn nourishes all the other species, as well. Humans have taken advantage of this so much that it has become a problem.
6. Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia and Florida, USA
The Okefenokee Swamp is a shallow, 438,000 acre (1,770 km²), peat-filled wetland straddling the Georgia–Florida border in the United States. A majority of the swamp is in Georgia and protected by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Wilderness. The Okefenokee Swamp is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia. The Okefenokee is the largest “blackwater” swamp in North America.
The swamp was formed over the past 6,500 years by the accumulation of peat in a shallow basin on the edge of an ancient Atlantic coastal terrace, the geological relic of a Pleistocene estuary. The swamp is bordered by Trail Ridge, a strip of elevated land believed to have formed as coastal dunes or an offshore barrier island. The St. Marys River and the Suwanee River both originate in the swamp. The Suwanee River originates as stream channels in the heart of Okefenokee Swamp and drains at least 90% of the swamp’s watershed southwest towards the Gulf of Mexico.
The St. Marys River, which drains only 5–10% of the swamp’s southeastern corner, flows south along the western side of Trail Ridge, through the ridge at St. Marys River Shoals, and north again along the eastern side of Trail Ridge before turning east to the Atlantic. Longtime residents of the Okefenokee Swamp, referred to as “Swampers”, were of overwhelmingly English ancestry. Due to relative isolation, the inhabitants of the Okefenokee used Elizabethan phrases and syntax preserved since the early colonial period when such speech was common in England, well into the twentieth century.
The Suwanee Canal was dug across the swamp in the late nineteenth century in a failed attempt to drain the Okefenokee. After the company’s bankruptcy, most of the swamp was purchased by the Hebard family of Philadelphia, who conducted extensive cypress logging operations from 1909 to 1927. Several other logging companies ran railroad lines into the swamp until 1942; some remnants remain visible crossing swamp waterways. On the west side of the swamp, at Billy’s Island, logging equipment and other artifacts remain of a 1920s logging town of 600 residents. Most of the Okefenokee Swamp is included in the 403,000 acre (1630 km²) Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
A graded sand road, Swamp Perimeter Road, encircles Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Gated and closed to public use, it provides access for fire management of the interface between the federal refuge and the surrounding industrial tree farms.
A wildfire which began with a lightning strike near the center of the Refuge on May 5, 2007 eventually merged with another wildfire which began near Waycross, Georgia on April 16 due to a tree falling on a power line. By May 31, more than 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) had burned in the region, or more than 935 square miles (2400 km²), “an area greater than the State of Rhode Island”. The Okefenokee Swamp Alliance is a conservation group that works for continued preservation of the swamp.
7. Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana, USA
The Atchafalaya Basin,or Atchafalaya Swamp, is the largest swamp in the United States. Located in south central Louisiana, it is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge. The river stretches from near Simmesport in the north through parts of eight parishes to the Morgan City area in the south. The Atchafalaya is unique among Louisiana basins because it has a growing delta system (see illustration) with nearly stable wetlands.
The Atchafalaya Basin, the surrounding plain of the river, is filled with bayous, bald cypress swamps, and marshes that give way to more brackish estuarine conditions and end in the Spartina grass marshes, near and at where it meets the Gulf of Mexico. It includes the Lower Atchafalaya River, Wax Lake Outlet, Atchafalaya Bay, and the Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf, and Black navigation channel. See maps and photo views of the Atchafalaya Deltas centered on 29°26′30″N 91°25′00″W.
The basin, which is susceptible to heavy flooding, is sparsely inhabited. The basin is about 20 miles (32 km) in width from east to west and 150 miles (240 km) in length. With 595,000 acres (2,410 km2), it is the nation’s largest swamp wilderness, containing nationally significant expanses of bottomland hardwoods, swamplands, bayous, and back-water lakes. The Basin’s thousands of acres of forest and farmland are home to the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus), which has been on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service threatened list since 1992.
The few roads that cross it follow the tops of levees. Interstate 10 crosses the basin on elevated pillars on a continuous 18.2 mile (29,290 m) bridge from Grosse Tete, Louisiana, to Henderson, Louisiana, near at the Whiskey River Pilot Channel at 30°21′50″N 91°38′00″W.
The Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1984 to improve plant communities for endangered and declining species of wildlife, waterfowl, and migratory birds. Geologically, the Atchafalaya River has served periodically as the main channel of the Mississippi River through the process of delta switching, which has built the extensive delta plain of the river.
The natural levees created by earlier main channels border and help define the Atchafalaya Basin, with the Atchafalaya River’s natural levee running southward along the western edge of the basin. The central basin is further bordered by man-made levees designed to contain and funnel floodwaters released from the Mississippi at Morganza south toward Morgan City and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.
Since the early 20th century, because of manmade alterations in the channel, the Mississippi has sought to change its main channel to the Atchafalaya River. By law, a regulated proportion of the water (30%) from the Mississippi is diverted into the Atchafalaya at the Old River Control Structure. In times of extreme flooding, the US Army Corps of Engineers may open the Morganza Spillway to relieve pressure on levees and control structures along the Mississippi.
On May 13, 2011, in the face of a rising Mississippi River that threatened to flood New Orleans and other heavily populated parts of Louisiana, the USACE ordered the Morganza Spillway opened for the first time since 1973. This water floods the Atchafalaya Basin between the levees along the western and eastern limits of the Morganza and Atchafalaya basin floodways.
8. Bangweulu Swamps, Zambia
Bangweulu Swamps is an enormous wetland wilderness of low islands, reed beds, floodplains and shallow lagoons, situated in the northern part of Zambia. The swamps are found in a shallow depression at the centre of an ancient cratonic platform. The basin is fed by 17 principle rivers from a catchment area of 190,000 square kilometres, but is drained by only one river, the Luapula.
Unique to the floodplains of the Bangweulu swamps is the water loving black lechwe, which can gather in herds of up to 10,000, following the floodwaters as they recede during the year. Also found here is the rare antelope, the sitatunga, which lives only in wetland areas. Other antelope in the Bangweulu include oribi, tsessebe, common duiker and reedbuck.
Less commonly seen are roan, wild dog and vervet monkeys, as well as smaller more nocturnal mammals such as mongoose and bush pigs. Although rarely seen, leopards do exist while hyenas and jackals are often heard at night and occasionally encountered on night drives. Numerous crocodiles and hippos are found in the permanent water channels or lurking in the papyrus reeds. Buffalo and elephant move into the area when the flood waters have receded to feed on the plentiful grasses.
The bird life here is inspiring. One of the rarest and most elusive birds in Africa, the shoebill stork, which is in fact closer to the pelican family than a stork, favors the Bangweulu Swamps as one of their last remaining habitats. During the early months following the rains, this strange looking bird can regularly be seen on the fringe between the permanent swamps and the floodplains.
The shallow waters of the floodplains also provide ideal feeding grounds for huge numbers of indigenous birds as well as numerous summer migrants. White and pink backed pelicans, wattled and crowned cranes, white and saddle-billed storks, spoonbills, ibises in flocks numbering in the hundreds and ruff by the thousand are a common but dramatic sight when the waters are rich in small fish, shrimps and snails. The shallow waterlines also abound with ducks, geese, jacanas, pratincoles, Montagu’s and Pallid harriers and occasionally flamingos.
Other notables are the slaty and black egrets, goliath heron, swamp fly-catcher, marsh tchagra, Fullerborn’s & rosy-breasted longclaws and white-cheeked bee-eater. The ground hornbill and Denham’s bustard are also a common sight as they patrol the grassland for large insects. The spectacular malachite kingfisher, speckled mousebirds, marsh whydah, Katanga masked weaver, Luapula & trilling cisticolas, black-collared eremomela & Bohm’s flycatcher may also be seen.
9. Okavango Swamp, Botswana
The Okavango Delta (or Okavango Swamp), in Botswana, is the world’s largest inland delta. It is formed where the Okavango River empties onto a swamp in an endorheic basin in the Kalahari Desert, where most of the water is lost to evaporation and transpiration instead of draining into the sea. Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water irrigate the 15,000 km² area. Some flood-waters drain into Lake Ngami. The Moremi Game Reserve, a National Park, spreads across the eastern side of the delta. The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that mostly dried up by the early Holocene.
10. The Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia and North Carolina, USA
The Great Dismal Swamp is a marshy area on the Coastal Plain Region of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina between Norfolk, Virginia, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina in the United States. It is located in parts of southern Chesapeake and Suffolk in Virginia, as well as northern Gates, Pasquotank, and Camden Counties in North Carolina.
It is a southern swamp, one of many along the Atlantic Ocean’s coast including the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp in Florida, the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, the Congaree Swamp and Four Holes swamps of South Carolina, and some of the Carolina bays in the Carolinas and Georgia. Along the eastern edge runs the Dismal Swamp Canal, completed in 1805.
Essential to the swamp ecosystem are its water resources, native vegetative communities, and varied wildlife species. The Great Dismal Swamp’s ecological significance and its wealth of history and lore make it a unique wilderness. It is one of the last large and wild areas remaining in the Eastern United States.
Some estimates place the size of the original swamp at over 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha). It stretched from Norfolk, Virginia to Edenton, North Carolina. After centuries of logging and other human activities which were devastating the swamp’s ecosystems, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1973 when the Union Camp Corporation of Franklin, Virginia donated 49,100 acres (200 km²) of land; the refuge was officially established through The Dismal Swamp Act of 1974.
The refuge consists of over 111,000 acres (500 km²) of forested wetlands. Lake Drummond, a 3,100 acre (13 km²) natural lake, is located in the heart of the swamp. Outside the boundaries of the National Refuge, the state of North Carolina has preserved and protected additional portions of the swamp, as the Great Dismal Swamp State Natural Area.
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