在奥克弗诺基国家野生动物保护区划独木舟 Canoe paddling in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia (© Brad Beck/Tandem Stills + Motion)
一片平静的水域 Serene waters on a 'trembling earth'
American Wetlands Month
It's American Wetlands Month, a time to celebrate swamps, marshes, bogs, and other types of these important ecosystems. Wetlands play a vital role in storing carbon, improving water quality, and serving as habitat for many endangered plants and animals, including American crocodiles and whooping cranes. And yet, wetlands are threatened. Over the centuries, they have been drained to provide land for farming, industry, and housing. Pollution and invasive plants pose further threats. Since the late 1700s, more than half of the 221 million acres of wetlands that once existed in the 48 contiguous states have disappeared.
Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp, seen here, is a thriving wetland that is home to dozens of bird species, American alligators. and other critters. It is also the largest blackwater swamp in North America—the water appears almost black due to tannins from decaying vegetation. All looks calm in our homepage image, but the swamp gets its name from a Native American word that is often translated as 'trembling earth' or 'bubbling water.'
Deep in the North Woods wetlands
To celebrate American Wetlands Month, we're flying over Norcross Brook, which snakes through the wetlands of Maine's North Woods near Moosehead Lake. Wetlands like these are an often-underappreciated natural resource. They act as vital link between land and our planet's watersheds, playing a crucial role in protecting healthy ecosystems. In addition to providing indispensable habitat for the many species that call them home, wetlands filter our drinking water and cycle nutrients. They also provide a natural buffer from storms, absorb flood waters, and capture carbon from the atmosphere—all of which help to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Some of the wetlands here around Moosehead Lake include the West Shirley Bog and the Lazy Tom Bog, both of which are well-known moose-watching hotspots. The hulking animals of Maine's North Woods are so common they're said to outnumber residents three to one. Surely there's a moose or five down there among those trees…