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Underwater forest found off Alabama coast

Alabama's Bald Cypress forest had been hidden under the sea for thousands of years.

kelpforestEnlarge
An enlargement of the U.S Postal Service's newest 44-cent First-Class postage stamps featuring the 'Nature of America: Kelp Forest,' is on display at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California on October 21, 2009 before an underwater presentation ceremony of the stamps, part of the 'Nature of America' series. The stamps went on sale on October 1st across the country. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Cypress trees buried under the sea for more than 50,000 years still give off the scent of wood after being cut, explorer Ben Raines told United Press International on Tuesday, describing an underwater forest found off the coast of Alabama.

Raines, a scuba diver who runs the nonprofit Weeks Bay Foundation, was brought to the forest by a dive shop owner who heard about it on a tip from local fishermen, according to LiveScience.

Long hidden by sea waters, what Raines found was a "primeval Cypress swamp in pristine condition," as LiveScience described it.

The ancient trees, which carbon dating put at 52,000 years old — when sea levels in the Gulf of Mexico were much lower — were found teeming with marine life, said LiveScience.

Raines made a sonar map of the find with help from Grant Harley of the University of Southern Mississippi and geographer Kristine DeLong of Louisiana State University, said UPI.

"These stumps are so big, they're upwards of two meters in diameter — the size of trucks," UPI cited Harley as telling LiveScience's Our Amazing Planet. 

"Swimming around amidst these stumps and logs, you just feel like you're in this fairy world," Raines added.

The growth rings on the trees may reveal new aspects of the climate in the Gulf of Mexico during the Wisconsin Glacial period, said LiveScience

Raines and others are currently applying for funding to further study the find. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130709/underwater-forest-found-alabama