They slow down rain water and filter nutrients, sediments, and pollutants from the rivers and bays
As storm water accumulates after a big rain, it enters our waterways as runoff
Wetlands slow the flow of that runoff and allow some of the water, and its contents, to be absorbed
Excess nutrients from fertilizers can cause algal blooms in water ways. The slow water in wetlands give the wetland plants time to absorb much of these nutrients and the rest to settle into the wetland soil.
Large particles of silt settle out in wetlands, leaving the water less muddy
These sediment particles often contain heavy metals, which can be dangerous to fish and other aquatic life, as well as humans. These also settle out.
Absorb the power of offshore storms limiting the impact to structures
Wetland soils are much more absorbent than terrestrial soils and can absorb a great deal of water
A 2008 NOAA study showed that coastal wetlands in the US were estimated to currently provide $23.2 billion per year in storm protection services. This means that the wetlands prevented over 20 billion dollars in damages to structures, roads, and habitat.
Sequester “greenhouse gases”
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs, and nitrous oxide.
Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which makes the planet warmer. In moderation they are important to making it so we have a planet that can sustain life.
However, humans have increased the release of greenhouse gases past what is sustainable for the planet. The temperature change brought on the by excess gases causes alterations in weather patterns, accelerated ice melting, and larger more erratic storms.
Wetlands have the ability to sequester, or capture, these gases in their soils and plants.
If a wetland is left undeveloped, those gases will stay in the soil and plants.
Provide spawning and nursery habitat for many of our seafood species
Various finfish and shellfish species call wetlands home for some part of their life. This includes shrimp, crawfish, and crabs.
Marsh grasses are great places to lay eggs and for young animals to hide from predators
Dead wetland plants are nutritious food for young critters.
Check out “Wetlands and Fish”, to see more ways healthy fish populations depend on functional wetlands.
Protect huge numbers of native and rare species of plants and animals
Wetlands have unique soils and an increased amount of water that support plants that are unable to live anywhere else. Some of these plants are very rare.
Numerous orchid species, carnivorous pitcher plants, sundews, and bladderworts can only survive in a Bog environment.
Grasses such as spartina and juncus can only grow in marsh conditions.
Salamanders, frogs, turtles, eels, and snakes all find their homes and food within wetlands
Wading birds use the fish-rich waters of marshes and swamps to find food and often build their nests above these waters. These same waters are crucial to migratory birds who need to refuel on their long journeys
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there are as many as 115 threatened and endangered species in Alabama, with 79 of them found in our streams and wetland areas
Offer excellent places to kayak, fish, take photographs, and explore
Wetlands can range from open grass lined salt marshes, to hidden cypress swamps, to pitcher plant bogs bursting with flowers.
Locally, we have numerous wetlands to visit
Mobile Tensaw Delta: The delta has every kind of wetland and is home to a variety of wetland species, including the American Lotus.