Okefenokee Tea

May 15, 2017

Okefenokee Tea (2)

Photographer: Rob Sheridan
Summary Author: Rob Sheridan

At nearly 700 sq mi (438,000 acres or 1,770 sq km), Georgia’s Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in North America. An average of 50 in (127 cm) of rain a year saturate this peat-filled shallow bedrock depression formed from a relic of a Pleistocene estuary on Atlantic Coastal Plain. Although quite pristine, the average 2 ft (60 cm) depth of Okefenokee water is stained tea-colored by tannins released by vast amounts of decomposing vegetation.

Two natural outlets release this blackwater to the sea. About 10 percent flows via the St. Mary’s River to the Atlantic in southeast Georgia. The major drainage is via the Suwannee River (made famous by songwriter Stephen Foster, despite never having visited the area) through northeast Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. In this photo, at a bend in the Suwannee within Florida’s Stephen Foster Cultural State Park, a bottle of clean Suwannee blackwater tea is held in the foreground. Also seen are bald cypress trees that have evolved with root systems that thrive semi-submerged. Designated as both a National Wildlife Refuge and a National Natural Landmark, the warm, humid Okefenokee supports an enormous diversity of plant, insect, and animal life -- it's an off the beaten track U.S. treasure. Photo taken on February 23, 2017.

Photo Details:  Camera Maker: NIKON; Camera Model: COOLPIX S9700; Focal Length: 4.5mm (35mm equivalent: 25mm); Aperture: ƒ/3.7; Exposure Time: 0.0031 s (1/320); ISO equiv: 125;
Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 14.0 (Windows).