This black and white photograph shows
many large and small Carolina Bays. Three of the Bays are
lakes. Many Carolina Bays have been drained for farming.
Their oval shape is still visible from the air.
Bays get their name from the shrubs called bays that
grow in and around them. This is a picture of
Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), a common bay
plant in North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of
Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
This black and white aerial
photograph shows two Carolina Bays in Bladen
County, NC. They are egg-shaped and point in
a northwest-southeast direction. There is a
clear sand rim around the southeastern edge of
What are the Carolina Bays?
Carolina Bays are shallow, oval
They are found throughout the east coast of the United States,
from Florida to Delaware. The most Bays are found in southeastern North Carolina, South
Carolina, and northeastern Georgia. There are about 40,000 Carolina Bays.
The smallest are less
than 1 acre
and the largest are over 5,000 acres. Even the largest Bays
are very shallow. They are only 8 to 12 feet deep. The largest
Bays are lakes, while smaller Bays hold less water. They are usually wetlands.
All Carolina Bays are the same shape
and point in the same direction. They are oval, or
egg-shaped. They are longer in one direction than they are in
the other. The long side of a Carolina Bay always points from
southeast to northwest. A rim of white sand, surrounds most Bays.
The rim is largest on the southeast side of the Bay.
No one knows what Carolina Bays really are or how they were
formed. They were first discovered in the 1930’s.
This is when the
first photographs were taken from airplanes. These
photographs gave people a “bird’s eye view.” They helped
them see the
landscape in a new way.
Click on the aerial photograph on the bottom left to
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