Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now – Barack Obama
As the sun rises over the Atlantic on eastern shore of Charleston, SC, one can simply gaze in awe of the raw natural beauty that boneyard beach in Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area has to offer. The 4000 acre property that ranges from woods to wetlands to fields is a fragile place where man must tread gently to avoid destroying the very things that attract us there. Those who have looked at my pictures from this site, often looked at them in disbelief. Some even called it fake or asked me if i photoshopped the tree into the frame. So, I am dropping a pin on the map pointing to the exact location below.
After about a mile’s hike through the causeway, as you step onto the virtually untouched boneyard beach, you instantly realize that this is unlike any other beach you have ever been to. Take a quick tour around the property and you will see that almost 3 miles of sandy beach with millions of shells and other natural artifacts embedded in the sand, hundreds of protected Loggerhead turtle nests and wide range of species are only a few things that make this place unique. As much as i loved the natural resources around me and the more I learnt about the ecosystem that is endangered, I truly appreciate the great work that volunteers are doing everyday to protect nature and wildlife here.
Number of trees uprooted and scattered across the entire beach and a bunch of skeletal trees that stood knee deep in the ocean, battling the powerful waves, yet holding on to their grounds firmly, startled me quite a bit. At first glance, the scene looked extremely mesmerizing to me. As a photographer, a scene like that makes my day and I must say, it was one of the most beautiful yet intriguing side of nature i had ever seen. My excitement of being able to capture nature in its raw form was immediately taken over by curiosity. Bunch of questions stormed my mind instantly and I started looking for answers.
I pulled out my phone, did a quick online search and also reached out to a park volunteer hoping to learn a thing or two about the rich history & ecosystem inhabiting the place. The brief information that volunteer shared with me, left me with a moment of realization of truth and a bit of shock. It was something I had heard of and read about a number of times, but i always doubted as to how real it is, until i saw it for myself.
Yes, I am talking about a phenomenon called Global Warming here. (Read more about Global Warming). All of us have seen international leaders, activists and scientists, debate on this topic on various podiums, while many of us still wonder whether it is actually happening or not and if or why should we care. I, personally speaking, had my own doubts about this whole phenomenon, but the facts I came across, related to Botany Bay plantation were quite an eye opener.
The place has been suffering the ravages of sea level rise. The shoreline is being eroded by rising seas, and trees are being uprooted and falling into the ocean. Each year approximately 144,000 cubic yards of sand is washed away with the waves at the beach, eroding the coastal forest along the beachfront. This has begun to threaten variety of habitats that Botany Bay WMA houses
- 2,500 acres (1,000 ha) of marine and estuarine wetlands
- 2 miles (3 km) of beachfront used for nesting by endangered loggerhead sea turtles and least terns
- 1,847 acres (747 ha) of upland, consisting chiefly of mixed pine-hardwood forest
- 283 acres (115 ha) of agricultural fields, managed for dove hunting and as food plots for wildlife.
- Many species – including deer, alligators, fiddler crabs, and egrets
- Sunflower fields to the salt marsh and fresh water ponds to the Spanish moss draped oaks
In many countries, managers of national parks and other historic sites are realizing that climate change, with its coastal flooding and erosion, rising temperatures and more intense rainstorms, represents a profound risk to the heritage they are trying to preserve. When you observe the changes happening at Botany Bay plantation and understand everything that is at stake, you would have no reason to believe that the fear is not real.
As a photographer, my goal is to create/tell compelling visual stories & this is one story that i believe, speaks volumes about the grave problem & eminent threat we are facing. Unfortunately the threat cannot be averted but at least we can slow it down, reduce the impact, & buy us some time. Pictures i have shared here, probably showcase the pretty side of a global threat, but if we don’t act on the problem now, we will lose more than a beach at Botany Bay Plantation and many other places around the world. For eg. Tasmania, the island south of the Australian mainland is another place, facing a similar brunt.
We all wish for a better future, and the best for our children and generations to come but the question remains, are we each really doing enough? We all love beautiful places, beautiful houses and the clean natural surroundings, but how much are we contributing in making our own surrounding environment stay unblemished? We spend a lot of time blaming it all on the government and institutions but failing to ask ourselves, are we saving our environment or are we ready to let go of the places like Botany Bay plantation keeping the blame game on and then waiting for a miracle to happen which will keep our future safe? We have been relying since past millions of years on Mother Nature, but can Mother Nature rely on us?
The threat of Global Warming is getting bigger than ever and it is knocking on our doors now, but the bigger question is “Are We Listening?”
If you wish to read more about Botany Bay Plantation area and Global Warming (cause, effects and preventive measures), please use the links listed below.
- National Park Service(2010-07-09). “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- “Bleak Hall Plantation Outbuildings, Charleston County (off S.C. Hwy. 174, Edisto Island)”.South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- “Sea Cloud Plantation – Edisto Island – Charleston County”.South Carolina Plantations. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- Video: “Clean Disruption – Why Energy & Transportation will be Obsolete by 2030”
- Recent Al Gore TED talk: “The case for optimism on climate change”
- Preserve Edisto