Cumberland Island - Salt Marshes

by Bethany Plonski July. 17, 2019 227 views

Directly ahead of Dungeness there are salt marshes, which are an important part of the ecosystem on the western side of the island. The marshes fill and drain each day along with the tides. In the first photo, behind the horses, you can see how the land transitions from grass into mud flats and then saltwater and cord grass.

As we kept walking and reached the mud flats, I noticed the ground beneath my feet was literally crawling with what appeared to be small, scurrying bugs. My first thought was oh lord, spiders! And it turned out I wasn't that far off: they were fiddler crabs. Tons of them!

Past the mud flats, there was a boardwalk to cross the marsh and continue on the trail toward the beach on the eastern side of the island.

There were lots of birds in the marsh, but they were way out of range.

There were lots of birds in the marsh, but they were way out of range.

The ranger told us we were lucky to arrive at low tide, because that is the best time to see manatees. As we crossed the boardwalk, we kept noticing a dark shape surfacing in the water out in the marsh, which turned out to be a manatee. It looked like it was enjoying a peaceful afternoon playing in the water. This was the point in the trip where I regretted bringing multiple lenses, because it was starting to rain and I was afraid to swap mine out during the mist. So I missed my chance for zoom photos of the manatee.

It's not a rock...it's a manatee!

It's not a rock...it's a manatee!

We had split into two groups when we arrived at the island, because three of us had bikes, and three were on foot for photos. I found out later that the bike group got to see the manatee up close and personal, a little while before we got there. It came right up to the edge of the boardwalk, and Andrew got a good video of it on his phone. You could see its snout and hear it breathing as it came up to the surface - so cool! It also had a giant white scar on its back from a propeller injury, which unfortunately happens all too often for manatees.

Even though our group missed the up-close manatee sighting, we made up for it shortly after, when we were crossing the marsh border and got a chance to see another amazing animal. A white deer!

I've seen a very dark, almost black deer one time before, and this was just as surprising and strange. Apparently these deer are called piebald (which seems odd to me, because at least for horses, piebald means having patches of white and one other color). This deer appeared to be mostly white, but it wasn't an albino, because it had brown eyes. So maybe that is part of the reason it's called piebald? Either way, it was a pretty incredible sight!

We also passed a small cemetery overlooking the marsh. It is the burial place of Catherine Greene, the widow of the Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene, who also lived on the island for a while. Henry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee, was also buried there (though not permanently).

With two editors in our group, we noticed that poor Charles Jackson had some problems with his tombstone: a word with a missing letter and some interesting capitalization choices. :)

Eventually this land became the Carnegies, but while Thomas Carnegie has a memorial plaque there, he was actually buried in Pennsylvania.

The Carnegies did use the cemetery to bury the Rikarts, the European tutors they had hired for their children.

They have a pretty nice view from their final resting place, don't you think?

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Ann Kennedy 1 year, 6 months ago

Heya,  I prefer wetlands and marsh and swamp landscapes than rolling green countryside.  Your photos prove that this is more interesting :)  Love the deer one and hanging moss one.

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Ann Kennedy 1 year, 5 months ago

Thank you so much for stopping by! I really enjoyed the marshes too - so much life and activity there.

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess 1 year, 6 months ago

Fascinating series & info! 
Great shots
How were the mosquitos???

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you, Jay! Surprisingly, it seemed like the mosquitos were much worse on St. Simon's and Jekyll Island than here (although you could see them bothering the horses a lot). But that could have been because of the copious bug spray we used for Cumberland Island. I read and saw a lot of horror stories online before we went, so I decided not to take any chances!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 6 months ago

That's what I love about living up here, in the Great Northwest: very few flying/biting pests, no insufferably stifling heat & no poisonous snakes!!! If you go very far out in the wilderness, you do need to be aware of the cougars & bears, especially the "moms" with cubs.........gulp!!!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 5 months ago

The west definitely has it right when it comes to pests. smile I haven't gone camping on the east coast, ever, because for some reason the thought of sleeping among creepy crawly things is far more unsettling than sleeping among bears.

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm with you there! 
I don't allow any "creepy crawlers" in any of my "personal spaces" (home/car/tent/etc/etc...)
I figure there is plenty of room for them out of doors!!!!
+1grinning

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 5 months ago

Agreed, 100%! smile

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 5 months ago

+1grinning+1

1 year, 5 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 1 year, 6 months ago

Looking at this post it's like being travelling with you. Love the pictures of this beautiful island and its amazing creatures. I had never seen a white deer before. Great work Bethany

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Antonio Gil 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you so much, Antonio, how kind of you to say. smile I have had a good example to learn from, looking at all your beautiful travel photos for inspiration!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Sanyog Patial 1 year, 6 months ago

Good work! I personally liked the one of a bridge!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Sanyog Patial 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you! I always enjoy including bridges in photos whenever I can since they add nice lines. smile

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith 1 year, 6 months ago

#10 Beautiful Creature. First one I have seen that is major one color I dont know if the bit of grey on the face counts as 2nd color. I have seen a few piebald in WV that were multicolor but I can say this one is a first for me :) Sweet capture. I love the shots of the island .

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Russell Smith 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you! We were so excited about the deer, I doubt I will see anything like that again in a long time. Glad to have a photo since it's one of those things that makes people think "yeah, right."

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 year, 6 months ago

I had to look up what a manatee was ... Pretty sure I'm never gonna see one in the wetlands that are being created around where I live (they were wetlands before, but then "civilisation" came and tamed the river - after something like 700 years "civilisation" finally realised wetlands are a good protection against floodings ...) smile

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 6 months ago

Florida seems to be the most common place to find them around here, so I'd bet that your wetlands are cooler than the ones they prefer. And it's funny how long it takes people to realize that nature has developed pretty good ways of managing a lot of the things we worry about. smile

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Björn Roose Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm sure they are cooler indeed. And probably a little too far from the see (we're some 40 kilometres inland from the port of Antwerp), although there used to be harbour porpoises this far up river and one was found again a year or so ago (dead, of course, probably ran over by a ship) ...

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
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