National

Alabama’s past flora, fauna, and glimpses on a tour of the “American Amazon”: NPR

The carnivorous plant field is surrounded by swamps within the Mobile Tenso Delta. Ben Raines calls carnivorous plants “carnivorous wonders” because they extract most of the nutrients from the insects they kill and digest.

Courtesy Ben Rains


Hide captions

Switch captions

Courtesy Ben Rains

The carnivorous plant field is surrounded by swamps within the Mobile Tenso Delta. Ben Raines calls carnivorous plants “carnivorous wonders” because they extract most of the nutrients from the insects they kill and digest.

Courtesy Ben Rains

On a bright November morning, writer and photographer Ben Raines launches a fishing boat into Mobile Bay, the skyline of the city in the distance.

“Immediately next to this big American city is one of the country’s largest intact wilderness areas, and certainly one of the largest wetland wilderness areas,” he says, away from the docks.

His boat is at the top of Mobile Bay, where freshwater confluences flow into salt marshes and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. This is known as the Mobile Tenso Delta.

“When you come out on a Delta boat, it’s nice to be in the Amazon,” Rains says. “It’s very fascinating.”

In his new book, “Saving the American Amazon: A Threat to Our Country’s Most Biodiversity River System,” Reins explores the amazing array and history of flora and fauna found in this vast delta of the Alabama Bay. I will explore. Consider carnivorous plant swamps, oklarelka fields, colorful darts fish, and small seahorses.

“We are in the most diverse river systems in North America,” says Raines, who is navigating upstream as a captain and tour guide. “There are more species of fish, turtles, snails, salamanders, crayfish and mussels here than in any other river system in the United States.”

The Mobile Tenso Delta is “the most diverse river system in North America,” says Ben Rains. “There are more species of fish, turtles, snails, salamanders, crayfish and mussels here than in any other river system in the United States.”

Courtesy Ben Rains


Hide captions

Switch captions

Courtesy Ben Rains

The Mobile Tenso Delta is “the most diverse river system in North America,” says Ben Rains. “There are more species of fish, turtles, snails, salamanders, crayfish and mussels here than in any other river system in the United States.”

Courtesy Ben Rains

The Nature Conservancy ranked Alabama 5th in the United States for biodiversity. This allows relatively small states to compete with California, Texas, Florida, and more. Still, Reins says Mobile Delta is barely recognized. Alabama is far more famous for its football prowess and racial history than its natural wonders.

“Part of the reason it escaped notification was because it was in Alabama,” he says. “We have this long history. We have this incredible natural place where all these species are, and it escaped destruction primarily by benign negligence.”

However, Raines’ book, published on December 15, describes how pressure is rising. There is pollution from the banking industry, more people moving to the coast, and damming upstream rivers.

He says it is important to protect the edges where the land and water meet.

“It’s always a hot zone biologically, where aquatic, terrestrial, and terrestrial interactions interact,” says Raines.

But it’s also where people want to live by the water, take advantage of their abundant resources, he says.

“That end is where all biological activity takes place,” says Raines. “If we don’t protect it, we build on it and live on it, or if we destroy it by logging, what do you have, we lose it.”

Go back to the past

Iris fields can be seen around Little Bateau Bay, Alabama. Plants play an important role in swamp ecosystems and help keep mud in place.

Courtesy Ben Rains


Hide captions

Switch captions

Courtesy Ben Rains

Iris fields can be seen around Little Bateau Bay, Alabama. Plants play an important role in swamp ecosystems and help keep mud in place.

Courtesy Ben Rains

“We run up and then push into the swamp,” said Raines, named after the extinct giant shark that speeded up on his boat, Auricle Tus, and found teeth in the area.

We hand over the remains of the military turret first made by the Spaniards in an attempt to keep the French away. He says it was later occupied by the Confederates during the Civil War.

“They dug trenches on the other side to pull back the barges during the Civil War,” Rains said. “And they could build the hill, put the cannon on it, and shoot it a little further.”

Elsewhere, you’ll find Native American pottery shards and crocodiles sunbathing on the riverbank as white pelicans fly overhead.

“In a sense, Alabama’s natural heritage wasn’t always present in the landscape at our feet, but as bad as a century that constitutes the state in terms of what we did to it. It has been obscured by the press. Civil rights movements, steel mills, cotton fields, football, that is Alabama that lives in the hearts of the people, but another Alabama, the rarest and most valuable in our country. There is a wild Alabama that is ranked as one of the World Heritage Sites. “

— Ben Raines in “Saving the American Amazon: A Threat to Our Country’s Most Biodiversity River System”

Further upstream, the landscape shifts from wide open muddy seagrass to the narrower swamps and black waters of Bayeux with giant cypress trees along the coastline.

It’s like going back in time. According to Rains, the area has looked much the same since the Ice Age.

“That’s really the secret of Alabama’s diversity,” he says. “The reason we have all these creatures is that everything that evolved here is essentially still here because Alabama never freezes.”

Even with the help of prominent Harvard biologist EO Wilson from Alabama, who wrote the preface to “Saving the American Amazon,” efforts to establish Mobile Delta National Park were inadequate.

“This is such a haunted house.”

Two-foot-long crocodile eyes sneak up from the surface of the Mobile Tenso Delta.

Courtesy Ben Rains


Hide captions

Switch captions

Courtesy Ben Rains

Two-foot-long crocodile eyes sneak up from the surface of the Mobile Tenso Delta.

Courtesy Ben Rains

Rains, a former environmental reporter and photographer for a local newspaper, spent 20 years recording Mobile Delta.

But his most important discovery happened two years ago on the Mobile River.

“This is where the wreckage of the last known ship that takes enslaved Africans to America was found, and I actually found it right behind us,” Rains said. Hit his boat on the beach with high seagrass.

“The depth of the ship is about 20 feet,” says Raines. “The eyes are nailed in the mud. You can follow the contours around the edges and feel the shape of the ship.”

It’s the Clotilda — rumored to exist for a long time. Ghosts infested with both slave descendants and the family of the man who brought them here around 1860 were betting.

Ben Raines spent 20 years recording the Mobile Delta, but two years ago when he found the last known shipwreck that would take enslaved Africans to the United States, he made the most important discovery. I did.

Debbie Elliott / NPR


Hide captions

Switch captions

Debbie Elliott / NPR

Ben Raines spent 20 years recording the Mobile Delta, but two years ago when he found the last known shipwreck that would take enslaved Africans to the United States, he made the most important discovery. I did.

Debbie Elliott / NPR

“The owner of a wealthy farm and the captain of a steamship named Timothy Miher bet that he could smuggle large numbers of slaves illegally for fifty years,” he says. “You could still have slaves, but you couldn’t bring Africans.”

Shortly before the Civil War began, the Clotilda returned from West Africa with 110 prisoners of war and sneaked through this river network instead of via Mobile Harbor. The prisoners were hidden in a swamp bush.

“They took all the slaves off the boat, then lit them and sank them to hide evidence of the crime,” says Raines, who is currently working on a book on the Clotilda. “We are in a very desolate place. There is nothing around. The reason the ship is here is because they wanted to hide it. And they did what they did, where it was. I didn’t want anyone to know what I did. “

On the coast where the shipwreck is located, Spanish moss hangs down from cypress trees along the coast, creating a ghostly image.

“This is a very haunted house,” says Raines.

Alabama’s past flora, fauna, and glimpses on a tour of the “American Amazon”: NPR

Source link Alabama’s past flora, fauna, and glimpses on a tour of the “American Amazon”: NPR

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button