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All About Wetlands
Celebrate World Wetlands Day and honor the natural watery lowlands that help sustain life on every continent but Antarctica. From filtering pollutants to sustaining ecosystems, these watery lowlands make a crucial contribution to maintaining life on Earth as we know it – which is why World Wetland Day (February 2nd) seeks to encourage awareness about this critical aspect of our environment. Discover how wetlands play such an integral role and explore what ecosystems they help provide for around the globe.
What Are Wetlands?
Wetlands are incredible land areas that offer a wealth of wildlife, lush landscapes and an unparalleled opportunity to explore nature’s wonders. Swamps, bogs and marshes make up these vibrant natural ecosystems which feature soil saturated in most (if not all) parts of the year – leaving some with standing water for much or even the entirety.
The water that characterizes wetlands can come from a variety of sources. Coastal wetlands (also known as tidal wetlands) get a lot of their water from oceans or seas, resulting in a brackish mix of fresh and salt water. Inland wetlands are usually found on flat areas that border freshwater sources like rivers, streams, and ponds. Some of these lowlands even get a lot of their water through sources in the ground like aquifers or springs.
How Are Wetlands Important?
Wetlands are a cornerstone of life on our planet. These marshes play different roles in different regions, but there are some commonalities among all wetlands. The overwhelming amount of water found in these areas mixes with the terrestrial features to support an astonishingly diverse network of plants and animals. Wetlands’ ecological productivity is comparable to that of rainforests or coral reefs. In fact, these areas of lowlands have played an integral part in different regions of the world, such as regulating water levels and controlling floods.
Wetlands are also crucial for sustaining human-built environments such as rural agriculture and urbanized areas. While New Orleans is famous for its proximity to the swamp, many people don’t realize that major urban centers like New York City, Chicago, and Amsterdam were also built in or near these marshes. World Wetlands Day provides a moment to reflect on how wetlands support and protect the places in which we live.
What Animals Live in Wetlands?
Wetlands aren’t just a bunch of random marshes – they’re vibrant, teeming ecosystems. From the crawling critters on land to creatures swimming and wading in their wet habitats, these waters are home to all sorts of wonderful wildlife. Louisiana is particularly known for its inhabitants – chiefly among them being the American alligator. These powerful beasts can grow up to 12 feet long and reign over each region as apex predators!
In addition to gators, visitors to the bayou will encounter beautiful birds, mammals, insects, and amphibians. Popular local wildlife includes pelicans, egrets, herons, tortoises, frogs, and butterflies. Every creature you encounter in the swamp plays an important role in sustaining its vibrant ecosystem. Pay careful attention to how these animals interact with each other, as well as with the swamp’s towering cypress trees and dense grasses.
Visit the Wetlands
The best way to celebrate World Wetlands Day is to journey through it on an eco-friendly New Orleans swamp tour! Southern Louisiana is home to some of the world’s most iconic wetlands, and Cajun Encounters offers an incredible swamp tour in New Orleans that is educational, safe, and fun. Our knowledgeable and local tour guides will take groups of visitors deep into the swamp where they can learn more about this dynamic ecosystem and the creatures that call it home. Your exciting wetlands adventure is located just a short drive from downtown New Orleans. Book your New Orleans swamp tour and get ready to make some long-lasting memories!