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World’s Largest Beaver Dam Seen on Google Earth

World’s Largest Beaver Dam Seen on Google Earth

By David Bois, Tonic

At nearly 2,800 feet in length, it’s one of the largest dams ever built. Construction began way back in the 1970′s, and if four decades seems an excessively long time to spend on an infrastructure project, you might want to cut the work crew some slack in light of the fact that they’re all beavers.

The dam, located in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park situated in a very remote area of the province near the border with Northwest Territories, is not simply remarkable for being visible from space. Rather, were it not to have been captured by satellite image and rendered visible through Google Earth, we might not have had any clue about this remarkable feat in rodent civil engineering.

As MSNBC reports, ecologist Jean Thie was reviewing Google Earth and NASA satellite data as part of an investigation of permafrost loss in the area when he spotted the feature and concluded that it was the work of beavers in spite of the surprising scale of it. Thie actually made the discovery back in 2007, and the surprising find only now is receiving widespread media attention thanks to an intrepid British journalist who caught mention of the unusual find on a blog post.

Based on review of historical aerial photography, park rangers estimate that the beavers got to work on the dam at some point in the 1970s. Flyovers conducted in this area of the park since the 2007 Google Earth discovery confirm the existence, scale and location of the beaver dam, but no one has yet been able to explore the dam up close. Because of the terrain (it’s remote, it’s tree-covered, and it’s swampy to boot) there is no good nearby place to land a small plane and allow direct and up-close investigation of the beavers’ accomplishment.

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91 comments

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6:28AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

WOW!

3:00PM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

12:38PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

thanks :)

9:17PM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Go beavers!

6:55PM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Dam fine! :-)

9:44AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Thank you for sharing. It's fascinating. I love beavers. What they can do is simply incredible.

11:19PM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

That's amazing! I'm thrilled it's surviving that long!

8:01PM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

Looking at the photo you can't tell that it's marshland.....all I kept thinking was, where is the water?? Wonderful that nobody can bother their mighty project!

10:02AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

ty

10:00AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

In our Wood Buffalo National Park..yes I heard about this quite some time ago that it really surprised Google. Maybe these busy little beavers are building big because they sense something we don't know about. ;-)
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