The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program hosted its annual educational, coastal-based event, Ocean Commotion, on October 27 at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. The primary purpose of Ocean Commotion is to give students the chance to learn about and touch the products of the sea and coast—the aquatic animals, plants, and minerals—upon which Louisiana’s citizens are so dependent. In attendance were 2,138 K-8 students, 121 teachers and 139 chaperons from East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Jefferson, East Feliciana, and Assumption parishes.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the connection between students and the coast by providing the opportunity to become “hands-on” with activities that foster interests in and curiosity for Louisiana’s passive shoreline environments. Among the 70 exhibits from universities, non-profits, state and local governments, student clubs, science and museum centers and K-12 student exhibitors was the CWPPRA Mysterious Wetland Wonders activity. Participants were encouraged to reach inside the seven mystery boxes, read clues, and try to identify the wetland item hidden inside each box without peeking! The mystery items included a seashell, apple snail shell, oyster shell, cypress knee, Spanish moss, nutria pelt, and a magnolia seed pod. In order for future generations to effectively protect our oceans, coastlines, and wetlands, learning about the importance and benefits of each is essential.
This week’s Wetland Wednesday highlights National Wildlife Refuges in honor of
National Wildlife Refuge Week
So, what is a national wildlife refuge? A national wildlife refuge is a designated area of land which is protected and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. These public land and water areas are dedicated to conserving wildlife and plants, while providing outreach and educational opportunities to inform the public on habitats and species relevant to the local area. These refuges manage a broad range of landscapes/habitat types such as wetlands, prairies, coastal and marine areas, and temperate, tundra, and boreal forests; as a result, each different habitat type attracts its own web of inhabitants. Many of the national refuges are responsible for rising numbers of endangered species, such as whooping cranes in Louisiana, which are federally protected and closely monitored. National Wildlife Refuges manage six wildlife-dependent recreational uses in accordance with National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, including hunting, fishing, birding, photography, environmental education, and interpretation. Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week by taking part in recreational activities and efforts to maintain safe, sustainable areas for local wildlife.
Click here to find a National Wildlife Refuge near you!
Did you know:
CWPPRA has protected, created, or restored approximately 96,806 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act has funded coastal restoration projects for 26 years. Presently, CWPPRA has 153 total active projects, 108 completed projects, 17 active construction projects, 23 projects currently in Engineering and Design and has enhanced more than 355,647 acres of wetlands . These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring technique in Louisiana. The success of the CWPPRA program has been essential in providing critical ecosystem stabilization along Louisiana’s coast and has provided pioneering solutions for land loss.
Visit CWPPRA’s website for more information!
In honor of National Estuaries Week, this week’s Wetland Wednesday focuses on
An estuary is an ecosystem comprised of both the biological and physical environment, commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are known to be inhabited by an array of plant and animal species that have adapted to brackish water—a mixture between freshwater draining from inland and salt water. Estuaries have one of the highest productivity rates among ecosystems in the world; they provide an abundance of food and shelter as well as breeding and migration locations. Estuaries also provide great access for successful recreational activities such as fishing. Celebrate National Estuaries Week by aiming to keep your estuary areas clean of trash for others to enjoy as well as a healthy environment for wildlife and vegetation!
Wetlands are natural ecosystems that provide an abundance of wealth to not only it’s inhabitants, but also to surrounding communities. Wetlands provide benefits ranging from water filtration to storm surge protection; however, wetlands have become vulnerable to invasive species. Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause damage. Known as major contributors to wetland and coastal habitat loss, invasive species also threaten native species, as well as endangered species who rely exclusively on the wetlands for survival.
The foreign animals that have been recognized as invasive to coastal wetlands include Asian carp, wild boar, island applesnails, and nutria. The invasive plant species include Chinese tallow, common reed, and purple loosestrife. Invasive animal and plant species have altered the health of wetlands in some way; CWPPRA strives to protect the wetlands by constructing methods to diminish the invasive threat and restore native species dominance and health within the wetlands.
Did you know:
Louisiana ranks 18th in species diversity within the United States with 3,495 species.
Species diversity includes the number of different native species in a community—also known as species richness—and the abundance of the species, referred to as species evenness. Species diversity gives a general measure of biological wealth to a given community. Louisiana harbors much of its diversity along the coast from prairies, swamps, marshes, and barrier islands. Many of our nation’s industries rely on the functionality of and species that reside within the wetlands. Furthermore, the wetlands of Louisiana are critical to protected species of lesser abundance, such as the whooping crane, piping plover, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, and our nation’s symbol—the bald eagle.
On Tuesday, June 12th, the CWPPRA Public Outreach staff traveled to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Marine Research Lab in Grand Isle, Louisiana to discuss Louisiana wetlands with teachers from around the state. The teachers participated in WETshop: a week-long, dynamic teacher workshop that allows teachers to work with educators and scientists to learn about Louisiana coastal wetlands, issues, and history. The focus of the summer workshop is to create wetland stewards of teachers in order for them to educate coworkers and students in their home parishes about coastal land loss. The workshop was sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fishers and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. During WETshop, the teachers get a firsthand look at the importance of wetlands through visiting coastal ecosystems, water quality testing, marsh tours of coastal restoration sites, and the opportunity to learn about fisheries management, coastal botany and ornithology, and invasive species.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act’s Public Outreach staff participated in WETshop as coastal wetland educators. CWPPRA provided each of the twenty teachers with packets containing numerous publications and teaching resources, a Southeast Louisiana Land Loss Map, and posters from CWPPRA’s “Protect Our Coast” campaign. The public outreach staff also gave a presentation that highlighted causes of land loss, benefits of wetlands, CWPPRA’s history and success of projects, and different way teachers can access and utilize wetland teaching materials.
Visit CWPPRA’s Education page to access coastal teaching tools.
In honor of summer officially beginning this week, this Wetland Wednesday focuses on:
Recreation in the Wetlands
One of the many valuable qualities offered by wetlands is recreation. Ecosystems are highly biologically diversified, providing an abundance of species to view or catch. Boating, fishing, bird-watching, photography, or simply enjoying the landscape are all activities which attract greater use of wetlands during summer months. Known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana wetlands draw a large number of tourists and natives, increasing the ecotourism of the state. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the public to be opportunistic in using wetlands as a beneficial natural resource while also recognizing their importance and need for protection. While recreationally using wetlands, remember to respect the home of wildlife, including many endangered species.
Why are oceans important?
Oceans are the blood of the planet- critical to the survival of life on Earth. Not only are oceans a home to a vast assortment of wildlife, they create a livable environment for land-bearing organisms like humans.
Oceans cover three quarters of the planet, produce more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and in return absorb the most carbon. Ocean-based businesses contribute more than $500 billion to the world’s economy and approximately half of the world’s population resides in the coastal zone. Oceans supply food, transportation, jobs, products that aid in keeping you warm, safe, informed, and entertained.
Regardless of the distance between you and an ocean, your life is still highly affected by the health of Earth’s oceans. Celebrate World Ocean Day by adopting the practice of appreciating our oceans, keeping our oceans clean, and caring for the oceans that give so much to us in return.
Coastal wetlands create a great habitat for many turtle species. Wetlands include a large gradient from shallow fresh waters, pelagic salt waters, to heavily or scarcely vegetated areas; a species of turtle resides in every type of wetland environment. World Turtle Day is designated to raising awareness and bringing attention to turtles and tortoises for the encouragement of protection, survival, and thriving of the many species. Further your wetland animal knowledge by utilizing World Turtle Day to become familiar with local turtle species and getting involved in turtle research and protection.
Philippines, green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swimming, close-up, underwater view