Header image  
line decor
line decor


Carolina Bays
Wild, Mysterious, and Majestic Landforms

Robert C. Clark and Tom Poland

There is a strange beauty at the heart of every mystery, and the mystery of the Carolina Bays is an enigma that is lushly, uniquely beautiful.

How did these odd geomorphological features come to be formed in the landscape in the first place, with their uniform shapes and matching elliptical orientations scattered across the Carolinas? There are many hypotheses but no definitive answers. Why are these inland phenomena even called "bays?" There is no clear answer to that either.

The best definition of these features are "temporary, isolated freshwater wetlands," variously described as "high or flatwater ponds, wet weather lakes, or vernal pools," often identified more accurately as "pocosins," and they are ecological wonders, full of all manner of amphibians and reptiles, insects and birds, wildlife and plant—many of them exotic and rare. What also defines them is their uncommon beauty.

Featuring more than one hundred-fifty color images, Carolina Bays takes you from an aerial perspective of these unusual bays to an on-the-ground safari, from frogs that croak and bark and boom to skinks that skim across the water as if on skis, and on to squawking herons to black-and-yellow polka-dotted caterpillars. There are growling alligators and four hundred-year-old trees and delicate yellow-fringed orchids. Life is found in astounding abundance.

These wetlands are unique and almost immeasurably ancient; as is to be expected in the modern world, they are threatened by human intervention. Such diverse habitats and their rich, unmatched biodiversity call out for preservation and restoration. The bays are not only visited and documented by the authors; they make an impassioned case for respecting how important these singular formations are for the health of the planet. You could not find more able guides.

Tom Poland graduated from the University of Georgia and is the former managing editor of South Carolina Wildlife Magazine. He is the author of South Carolina Country Roads, Reflections of South Carolina (volumes 1 and 2), and Georgialina: A Southland As We Knew It. He has received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor.

Robert C. Clark is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and his photographs have appeared in National Geographic books, Newsweek, and the Smithsonian magazine, among other publications, as well in photographic awards annuals such as Print and Communications Arts. Together with Poland he co-authored Reflections of South Carolina (volumes 1 and 2).





January 2020
7 x 10
192 pages
150 color illus.
ISBN 978-1-64336-056-0 Hardcover, $34.99t

ISBN 978-1-64336-057-7
Ebook, $34.99

    Copyright ©2018 The University of South Carolina Press