Tuesday, February 2, 2016

World Wetlands Day 2016

Feb. 2, 1971 is the day the Ramsar Wetlands Convention was signed. Since then more than 474 million acres of wetlands have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance.

Important? Wetlands? You mean those stinky muddy places we drain so we can put up strip malls and subdivisions?
The very same. Whether you call them marshes, fens, swamps, sloughs, or bogs, wetlands hold some of the richest biodiversity on Earth. Just so long as we leave them unpaved, that is. 

Did you know:

Wetlands are a major source of clean drinking water. They capture, store, and filter water for surrounding ecosystems. They replenish groundwater reserves.

Wetlands are critical to the survival of more than a third of the species protected by the Endangered Species Act. Florida's manatee populations have plummeted due to the "reclamation" of wetlands for development. 

Wetlands provide a natural flood barrier. The devastating flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was partially a consequence of the loss of Louisiana's coastal wetlands. Wetlands absorb and buffer storm surges. A single acre can absorb more than a million gallons of stormwater.

Wetlands are essential to 95% of the commercially harvested fish and seafood species. Though we think of overfishing as harming those fisheries first, without strong wetlands the fisheries can't exist at all. In our area, for example, blue crab larvae must be able to move up the Chesapeake Bay to shallow eelgrass beds for protection from predators as they mature.

Wetlands provide food and nesting areas to half of North America's birds. They provide food and rest along migration routes. 

Between 300 and 400 million people (including me!) live near and depend upon wetlands.
Source: World Wildlife Fund
Please click the links below to see great photos (WWF especially is hosting a special slide show today).
Sources: National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund


  1. Replies
    1. They really are! About 20 years ago when we visited Key West, Ted really wanted to take a kayak tour of a mangrove swamp. My reaction to the idea was Pee-Ew! Boy was I in for a surprise - clear dark water, tons of wildlife, and no bad smells at all. Gorgeous, a perfect day.

  2. We love learning new things we did not know any of this.
    thank you and hugs madi your bfff and mom

    1. Thank you for the kind words and hugs Madi!

  3. This is an important post. So many people think cats are responsible for killing the bird population when it's humans paving over their environment. When will they stop destroying nature for more Walmarts.

    1. Hi Cathy Keisha, thank you for your comment about protecting nature. Humans do so much damage. Sadly cats are also a threat to the songbird population, with estimates of mortality ranging from 1.4-4.0 billion birds/ year in the U.S. alone - (http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n1/full/ncomms2380.html ). Yet another big problem for birds is striking windows. Very sad and many times preventable. Maybe another post soon on that topic.
      Speaking of Wal-Marts, we now have five (!) in our one city. It's insane.

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  5. One of the big reasons for the devastation of New Orleans during hurricane Katrina is because they decimated their wetlands and relied on engineering to hold the water back. But water won't be denied. And healthy wetlands protect people as much as non-human animals.

    I've really enjoyed boating the Intracoastal Waterway through North Carolina. The wetlands are beautiful. And very comforting to boat in.

    I didn't realize how much I appreciated them until we got back out on the Cape Fear River which, even on a calm day, can feel kinda fearful.

    Lovely post.

    1. The Intracoastal Waterway is about 3 miles north of us - you may even have passed thru the Great Bridge Locks at some point. We've enjoyed paddling along the less urban sections.

  6. Thanks for this post. It's so dry here that I tend to think that we don't have "wetlands" in the mountains... but we do have places that trap the water during the spring melt or big summer storms. I never thought about them as protecting us from floods.

    1. Wetlands can be dry at some parts of the year. It's actually one of the reasons they are difficult to protect. Developers and local politicians use that to say the environmental restrictions are ridiculous, as in "it's not even wet there!", and ordinary citizens who don't understand the ecology can't help but agree.

  7. Wetlands = waterfowl habitat. They are very important. Ducks Unlimited has done a great job preserving wetlands.


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