June 19, 2017
The Underwater Forest, a new documentary by Ben Raines produced by This is Alabama and the Alabama Coastal Foundation, details the discovery and exploration of an ancient cypress forest found sixty feet underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, due south of Gulf Shores, Alabama. The forest dates to an ice age more than 60,000 years ago, when sea levels were about 400 feet lower than they are today.
The documentary premieres on June 25th on http://www.thisisalabama.org/ and AL.com and will air on Alabama Public Television on July 23rd at 6 pm and July 24th at 9 pm.
The forest appears to be a wholly unique relic of our planet’s past, the only known site where a coastal ice age forest this old has been preserved in place. It is considered a treasure trove of information, providing new insights into everything from climate in the region to annual rainfall, insect populations, and the types of plants that inhabited the Gulf Coast before humans arrived in the new world. Scientific analysis of the site is ongoing.
The documentary follows the work of the team investigating the site, both underwater and in the laboratory. The film was written and directed by AL.com’s Ben Raines, who also filmed the underwater sequences and organized the first scientific missions to the site.
The scientists believe the forest was buried beneath the Gulf sediments for eons, until giant waves driven by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 uncovered it. Raines and AL.com collected the first samples from the site, and participated in every scientific mission to the site, beginning in 2012.
Dropping 10 fathoms down, below the green waves of the Gulf and back in time to this prehistoric world amounts to a sort of time traveler’s journey. Nothing like the forest, in terms of age or scale, has ever been found. The oxygen-free underwater environment has hermetically sealed the…