Feb 2

Wetlands are some of the world’s most important habitats, supporting a great variety of wildlife as well as playing vital roles in the environment, such as helping to clean water and control flooding.

Every year, February 2nd marks World Wetlands Day, an annual celebration that aims to raise awareness of the importance of wetland habitats.

Photo of Bewick's swans in flight

Bewick’s swans in flight

The Big 9 Challenge

In the run-up to World Wetlands Day, One Show presenter Mike Dilger has been on a 9-day whistle-stop tour of WWT’s Wetland Centres all round the UK, so knows exactly what’s worth going out to see right now.

You can find out more about his challenge in the video below:

Mike’s latest report said: “The UK is one of the world’s great places to experience the spectacle of thousands of swans, geese and ducks grazing across a dramatic and beautiful wetland landscape. Winter is a great time to get out there because our bird numbers are swelled by winter migrants from the Arctic.”

Photo of bittern walking

An rare and elusive wetland inhabitant, the bittern is now recovering in Britain

“World Wetland Day is a great time to get your wellies on and find out just how amazing these habitats are. Don’t be afraid of the slightly muddy and soggy reputation of wetlands, that’s exactly why they’re so fantastic for wildlife. Wetlands are among the most abundant habitats in the world, but you really don’t have to travel the world to explore them. Ponds, lakes, marshes, riverbanks and moors are great places to spot the likes of dragonflies, water voles, otters and swans.

The easiest access to these, with guaranteed abundance of wildlife, is to find a Wetland Centre near you. Wetland Centres are designed and managed to bring close encounters with nature to as many people as possible. It’s incredible to see the variety and abundance of birds and other creatures that live in and visit our wetland habits.”

Photo of common otter feeding on eel in estuary

Common otter eating eel

“In nine days I’ve seen something different and amazing at every WWT centre (where you get the full wetland experience and the added advantage of having somewhere dry and a nice cup of tea after all the fun).”

Photo of common blue damselfly portrait

Wetlands are not just good for birds and mammals – they also support a range of other wildlife, including this common blue damselfly

For details of locations and what’s on, on World Wetlands Day and beyond, visit http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit/.

If you can get to WWT’s London Wetland Centre today, you’ve a chance to add Mike himself to your spotters list.

Feb 2

World Wetlands Day (WWD) is an annual celebration held on the 2nd February in order to raise worldwide awareness of the importance of wetlands. The date is particularly significant, marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, also known as the Ramsar Convention, which is an international treaty that represents the commitment of its members to the preservation of their wetlands.

Wetlands are areas where water is a dominant feature of the habitat, and can include coastal lagoons, areas of marsh and the habitat around lakes and rivers. Wetlands make up roughly 6% of the Earth’s land surface, and are home to an incredibly diverse array of plants and animals. Here at ARKive, we thought we’d celebrate WWD by highlighting a few of the spectacular species that rely upon wetlands for their survival.

European mudminnow image

The European mudminnow inhabits slow flowing and stagnant waters, such as ditches, ponds, oxbow lakes. It is currently threatened by alterations to its wetland habitat.

Purple darter image

Many species of dragonfly, including the purple darter, rely on wetlands in order to reproduce. Dragonfly larvae spend the first part of their life underwater, where they are ferocious predators.

Barasingha image

Larger animals also rely on wetlands for food and shelter. The barasingha is found in reed beds and floodplains, where it feeds on grasses and aquatic plants.

Jaguar image

The jaguar is the largest cat of the Americas, and a formidable predator. It can often be observed in areas close to water, and will even hunt aquatic animals such as the spectacled caiman.

Capybara image

Wetlands support some of the world’s most remarkable species, including the world’s largest rodent, the capybara. Feeding on grasses and aquatic vegetation, the capybara can hold its breath underwater for up to five minutes. They even mate in the water!

Northern pintail image

Many species of bird, such as these northern pintails, rely on wetlands for breeding and feeding, and will often migrate many miles to reach them.

As well as housing spectacular biodiversity, wetlands are also among the world’s most productive environments, and are important to the survival of many people. They provide water and food such as rice, which is a common wetland plant. The increasing global population is putting immense pressure on the world’s wetlands, and the Ramsar Convention aims to conserve these important habitats through a sustainable ‘wise use’ initiative.

Spotted any other wetland species on ARKive? Share them with us!

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author


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