February 2nd is World Wetlands Day. Perhaps you are asking why there is such a day? The Wildlife Habitat Council makes this statement: “Wetlands provide vital habitat to a number of species, including (but certainly not limited to) waterfowl, wading birds, frogs and salamanders, aquatic invertebrates, turtles, and fish. They also provide a number of essential ecosystem services like purifying our water, absorbing flood waters, and protecting coastal and riparian areas against erosion. Unfortunately, 64% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900.” So, what are wetlands anyway? Wetlands are areas of standing water or areas of soil saturated with water where aquatic plants can grow. They are covered entirely by water for at least part of the year. They can occur inland or at the coast, in forests or prairies. The three major types of wetland are
We have a wide variety of wetlands here in Maine. My family and I pass them regularly on our way to the beach, while walking through the woods, near the river, and even right in our own neighborhood. We never tire of the abundance and diversity of life that each one supports. Beavers, turtles, frogs, fish, aquatic insects, interesting plants, birds… Cornell’s Naturalist Outreach program has a wonderful video for kids (and adults) about wetlands and some keystone species on YouTube. Here are some other helpful resources to learn more about the world’s wetlands:
- National Geographic Wetland page has nice descriptions of the different types of wetlands.
- Earth’s Kids provides lots of resources and links.
- Ducks Unlimited Canada has a well-done activity packet (Wetlands & the World Teacher Guide & Activity Sheets) and some paper wetland animals to download.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a worlds wetlands mapper tool so you can see where the world’s wetlands are.
- Mother Nature Network features some beautiful photos of wetlands life.
I hope your children enjoy a wonder-filled exploration of wetlands in your area and across the world!