There are many ways in which a sunken forest can be created. Sometimes nature redesigns itself with one quick event like a landslide. It can also take its time over hundreds and even thousands of years to make sure it's just right. Sunken forests can be created by the human race when dams and reservoirs are built.
Every sunken forest around the world was created in a unique way that makes it vastly different from any other. The haunting beauty of these forests is only surpassed by the unimaginable effort made to create them, whether it was Mother Nature at work or our own species.
Lake Kaindy is probably one of the most well-known sunken forests in the world. Compared to many other forests like this, it's also relatively new. It had been created in the 1920s after a large landslide cut off the exits for much of the natural snow and ice melt every winter. At over 6,500 feet above sea level, this Spring melt every year has filled the forest behind the natural dam caused by the landslide with crystal clear, frigid waters that have preserved the trees and make for a fantastic diving experience.
When you think of the Transylvania region within Romania, you are most likely thinking darkness, haunted castles and churches, and maybe even a vampire or werewolf. When it comes to Lake Bezid, your thoughts might be closer to the truth than the fictional stories we have been told. When this lake was formed, it not only flooded the forest, but it also flooded the houses of a village. The only building remaining above water is a church, with a field of dark, barren trees as its backyard.
Lake Volta was not created by an act of Mother Nature. The dam that was completed in 1965 to support the Akosomba hydroelectric dam in Ghana helped to create this sunken forest. It is one of the largest manmade reservoirs based on the surface area alone.
With no oxygen in the water due to the hydroelectric power plant, the tropical hardwood trees have been preserved. There is some controversy now about whether these preserved trees should be harvested and sold, being worth quite a bit of money, or if the natural wildlife, as well as fishing activities, should be allowed to go on without interruption.
The United States hasn't been a country nearly as long as most others. However, that doesn't mean that these lands weren't still here, being formed by natural events. Clear Lake, located in the northwest US state of Oregon, has been formed by the lava flows that were common over 7,000 years ago. The flows, when solidified, created a natural dam that flooded the area of Clear Lake.
The waters that it flooded with were the snow and ice melt from farther up the mountain that was then filtered through hundreds and even thousands of feet of lava rock. The bed of the forest is the white silt left behind by those same volcanic events and with preserved trees as well as shipwrecks down there, you'd think you were hunting for pirate treasure in the Carribean.
As a dense, tropical jungle, Cambodia is filled with natural beauty and even architecture and artifacts from ancient people. While getting to these locations to see that beauty up close might be a little more difficult than in other countries, it's well worth the effort. Kampong Pluk is a forest of mangroves. These are trees that live and even thrive in the humid, jungle environment.
It may appear as if this is a dark, barren place with no supported life, but that's far from the truth. Wildlife, from fish to birds and even land mammals, call this mangrove forest home. Even the citizens of this sunken jungle forest thrive in this area and harvest shrimp both for sustenance and commerce.
Periyar Lake is another artificial reservoir that was created in this area of India. When the dam was first completed, many of those who lived here were displaced, and the wildlife was displaced as well. It has taken quite a while, but the reservoir is now home to several species of fish which has also brought birds back to the area. While the barren, preserved trees are visible above the water, the water itself is not very clear, so it is often difficult to see what these trees actually look like below the surface.
Fire Island is home to the appropriately named, "Sunken Forest." You wouldn't imagine that you would be able to take a ferry from Long Island, New York and end up in a forest, especially a breathtakingly beautiful sunken forest like this one. Even though the forest was created naturally, it's very young compared to most other naturally formed sunken forests.
It all started with the dunes along the coast that created a sort of natural dam. In the sands behind that dam, plantlife slowly started to inhabit the land, starting first with long beach grasses that we see even today. From that, a forest of black cherry, various types of oak, and even sassafrass has started to grow here creating a living, breathing sunken forest just miles away from the Big Apple.
Another manmade reservoir, this one in Sri Lanka looks much different than other sunken forests. There are many trees that can be seen above the water level and they are all packed closely together. This is due to the types of trees that lived here before the dam was created to form the reservoir.
The resident and wildlife displacement due to the building of the dam didn't occur that long ago, but residents are starting to return to the area now that fish, birds, and even elephants are also returning to the Udawattakele Reservoir.
This sunken forest, considered a swamp by some, is usually recognizable by many. Lake Caddo has been home to reality TV shows and has been the setting for fictional movies as well. The cypress trees in this forest are unique not only in their canopy coverage, creating shade on the water below, but in their roots as well.
The roots of these trees grow out to the sides above the water and are referred to as "knees." They look very similar to knees and they function in a similar way, as well. Because the tall cypress trees aren't very stable in the soggy forest floor, these knee-type roots help to stabilize them. This also isn't water you'd want to go for a swim in; Lake Caddo is home to snakes as well as crocodiles and some of them can sneak up on you in their natural environment.
The beaches at Cardigan Bay in the north of Wales are unique in that it's still a sunken forest, but the trees of that forest have long-since worn away into what now looks like driftwood. In fact, these are the tree stumps left thousands of years after the forest was overtaken by the ocean's waters.
The stumps aren't always visible due to the tide and the sands that regularly come in with them. After harsh storms with high winds, however, they are usually visible. Scientists are studying this beach to find out just how much it has changed over several millennia.