Atchafalaya Swamp, Louisiana, USA – March 10th, 2009
The bays visible at the bottom center, including Vermilion Bay (left), West Cote Blanche Bay (center) and East Cote Blanche Bay (right).
West of these bays are two lakes: White Lake (right) and Grand Lake (left), which appear dark brown with sediments and practically joined together from high water levels.
East of the bays is the Atchafalaya Basin, or Atchafalaya Swamp, the largest swamp in the United States. It is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge.
The Atchafalaya is unique among basins because it has a growing delta system (notice the two branchlike protrusions in the full image) with nearly stable wetlands.
The Atchafalaya Basin, the surrounding plain of the river, is filled with bayous, bald cypress swamps, and marshes that give way to more brackish conditions and end in the Spartina grass marshes, near and at where it meets the Gulf of Mexico. It is susceptible to heavy flooding, is sparsely inhabited.
The basin is about 20 miles (32 km) in width from east to west and 150 miles (240 km) in length. With 595,000 acres (2,410 km2), it is the USA’s largest swamp wilderness, containing nationally significant expanses of bottomland hardwoods, swamplands, bayous and back-water lakes.