In southeastern Louisiana, our landscape is known for its bayous. The word bayou comes from the Choctaw word “bayok”, which refers to a small stream. Experts believe that the current spelling was influenced by the Louisiana French variation of the word “bayouque.” A bayou is a slow-moving creek or a swampy section of a river or a lake. Bayous are often associated with the southeastern part of the United States. They can be freshwater, saltwater or a combination of both, which is also called brackish water. Most Bayous in Louisiana are heavily wooded. Bayou Bartholomew (between Arkansas and Louisiana) is the longest Bayou in the world. Other Bayous you may have heard of include Bayou St. John, Bayou Lafourche, Bayou Teche and Bayou Sauvage.
The Formation Of Bayous
Experts say Louisiana’s wetlands formed between 2,800 to 7,000 years through a process called accretion in which the Mississippi River Basin flooded, depositing sediment and building land. Louisiana’s Bayous started forming over thousands of years ago. Outlets and inlets of the Mississippi river made the Louisiana Bayous. A process called deltaic switching also led to the formation of Bayous. Because of the river’s deposits of silt and sediment, the Mississippi changed its course every thousand years or so. That is how Bayou Teche was formed. Bayou Teche was the river’s main course before it changed. Because of the bays, sounds and bayous, Louisiana has the longest coastline of any U.S. state.