The Okefenokee Swamp


Live oaks draped with Spanish moss

The Okefenokee Swamp is a unique boggy wetland area located in southeastern Georgia extending slightly into nearby Florida. The Suwannee River drains southwest from it into the Gulf of Mexico, and the St. Marys River eastward into the Atlantic. The area contains large, impressive stands of baldcypress trees and was once heavily logged for timber, but is now completely protected as a National Wildlife Refuge. "Okefenokee" is a Native American name meaning "Land of the trembling earth" because the ground is so soggy in most places that it can be difficult to walk on without sinking into the moist peat soil. However, there are some slightly higher and drier areas called "islands" where pines and oaks grow, and animals preferring those conditions can live, but these areas are difficult to access except for a very determined hiker. The native wildlife includes black bears, alligators, many types of wading birds including herons, ibises, wood storks, and others, and an astounding variety of reptiles and amphibians, including 37 types of snakes (4 of which are venomous) and a mind-boggling assortment of frogs and toads. This area was rumored to be one of the last haunts of the now-vanished ivory-billed woodpecker, and some die-hard fans of that spectacular species have never given up the hope that a few pairs of them could still be lurking there.

Here are some sample photos of the scenery and just a few examples of the amazing variety of wildlife known to occur in the area:


Bobcat                               Cottonmouth

Eastern coral snake


Snapping turtle

Bird-voiced treefrog             Green treefrog

Bullfrog                                   Southern leopard frog      
Ornate chorus frog                               Oak toad

White ibis

Great blue heron

Purple gallinule

Prothonotary warbler

Painted bunting

crotus crotus
51-55, M
3 Responses Nov 28, 2012

Those photos are outstanding! Did you take them, Crotus?
I moved to Atlanta from Chicago 13 years ago. We spend a lot of time hiking and camping, but usually head north to the mountains. I have been wanting so much to go to Okefenokee. The heat and bugs always discourage us.
I love those bald cypress. The roots look like Henry Moore sculptures emerging from the water.

I want to go there just to see the Bunting!

No, I wish I could take the credit for these photos, I collected them from around the web but all of these species are known to occur in the area. :-)
Yes, the bald cypress swamps create an eerie, hauntingly beautiful atmosphere... some people fantasize that that some ivory billed woodpeckers might still be fluttering about through the canopies, which is unlikely, but in a place like this, one never knows.

I love places like that, critters really don't scare me much, except snakes.
What are the bugs like in there? Mosquitoes love to feast on my blood.

Well, I haven't been there for a long time, but imagine it's probably similar in some ways to the Everglades, which are near where I live, and the mosquitos there can be really brutal... so it would probably be best to go there during the cooler months rather than in the middle of the summer.

Really pretty!

Thanks... I was once there many years ago but would love to go back now and try out my skills there as a wildlife photographer!