As a frequent visitor to South Walton, Ginger Jackson Sinton knew there was something truly special about the county’s Coastal Dune Lakes.
Needing a writing project to complete her masters program at Kennesaw State University, Sinton chose to research and write about the lakes.
The Atlanta resident has been coming to the Gulf her whole life and visiting this area for about 25 years.
"I chose the Dune Lakes because I was always intrigued with their rarity," she said.
Sinton spent time here and learned all she could from the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and the park rangers at Topsail and Grayton Beach State Parks. She also visited Coffeen Nature Preserve and interviewed between 15 and 20 people during her research.
She learned there are 15 Coastal Dune Lakes in South Walton, and they are so rare they are found in only one or two other places in the world.
After turning in her project, Sinton realized she had enough information that she could write a book.
She came back down to the Gulf and added more dimensions with information about our state parks and preserves within a mile of the coast, as well as the outflow and intermingling of salt water and fresh water, which makes the lakes brackish.
During her research, Sinton said she never saw any alligators but did see a black bear cross the road while driving down State Road 20. She also spotted a white snake at Grayton that was as white as the sand.
In the book, "Rare Coastal Dune Lakes: Biodiversity and a Sense of Home on 30A," Sinton mentions some of the area's locals who live on the lakes and what she learned from them. Such as Hank White, who lives on Alligator Cove and has seen 15 deer in his back yard.
The book took a year to write and she finished last July. She calls it an instructional tool and guide that shows visually how to respect the Coastal Dune Lakes and water, with some of her personal snippets and anecdotes of her time spent here.
"But, I tried not to make it too much about me," she said.
The book is a 112-page softbound coffee table book, with full color photos of the lakes, their ecosystems, and the wildlife that calls the scenic corridor home.
“When I realized a few years ago what spectacular gems the lakes are, and that this area is one of the most bio-diverse spots in the country, I decided it was worth capturing with words and photos,” she says. “Many people know of the lakes, but don’t understand why they are so special. Hopefully, my little book will help.”
Sinton emphasizes she is not a biologist, but has simply created a tool to spread the message about the natural wonder of these ecosystems.
"It gives locals and tourists general information on the lakes and reflects images of their rare beauty," she said.
The exploration of the area’s