Waccamaw is the second largest of the Carolina Bays and the largest
that still contains water. Although the maximum water depth is only 11
feet, this bay is nearly six miles long. The southeastern edge of the
lake is a sand rim which contains Lake Waccamaw State Park. Although most
of the Carolina Bays contain water that is quite acidic, this does not
hold true for Lake Waccamaw due to the limestone that underlies the lake.
Lake Waccamaw also differs from most Carolina Bays in that its entire
shore has a sandy bottom.
The Carolina Bays are oval-shaped depressions concentrated in the coastal plains of the southeastern United States, but occurring along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southern New Jersey to northern Florida. The nearly 500,000 bays first came to the attention of geologists in 1884 when Dr. L.C. Glenn proposed that the depressions may have been formed by the eastward retreat of the ocean.
In 1932, Melton and Schriever proposed a new hypothesis to explain the origin of the numerous, similarly shaped, and S50°E aligned depressions. They suggested that the small oval basins and their rims were formed many years ago by a meteor shower on dry land. The hypothesis was supported by the discovery that there were highly magnetic areas concentrated in the southeastern portions of the bays The meteor origins hypothesis attracted attention worldwide. Geologists and physical geographers rallied to support or refute the new hypothesis.
In 1934, C. Wythe Cooke proposed that the Carolina Bays were aligned due the consistency in the direction of the wind while they were being formed. The elliptical sand ridges that accompany the bays were thus bars and beaches that were built up in shallow lagoons when sea levels were higher.
Additional hypotheses were put forth in the late 1930s and in the 1940s that suggested that the Carolina Bays were the result of artesian springs rising through moving ground water.
true origins of the Carolina Bays remain controversial and a mystery
to this day.