Celebrating World Wetlands Day 2018
BY PAIGE WIGREN, ALPENA FWCO – DETROIT RIVER SUBSTATION
Substation demonstrate how long a lake sturgeon can grow. Credit: USFWS
Every year, people all across the world gather to celebrate World Wetland’s Day. Established in 1997, World Wetland’s Day honors the Rasmar Convention on Wetlands of 1971 and serves as a reminder of the importance of wetlands to natural ecosystems and human health. Specifically, southeast Michigan has been celebrating this day for the past nine years at Carlson High School in Gibraltar, Michigan. This annual celebration of World Wetland’s Day began after Humbug Marsh, located just two short miles from the high school in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (Service) Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, was designated Michigan’s only “Wetland of International Importance.”
In early March staff from the Alpena Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) – Detroit River Substation participated in the celebration. Upon entering the gymnasium at Oscar A. Carlson High School, we were greeted with excited chatter and introduced to some of the other organizations that were also presenting, including the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Leslie Science and Nature Center and a large display from the Native American Tribe – Wyandotte of Anderdon. We set up our booth, carefully laying out our two Asian carp mounts, and transplanting our two juvenile lake sturgeon in their display tank.
sturgeon being displayed at the Alpena FWCO – Detroit River
Substation exhibit. Credit: USFWS
It wasn’t long after we finished, that the first wave of students entered the gym and began making their way to different exhibits. Our juvenile lake sturgeon tank attracted quite the crowd. We heard children yelling out, “there’s a shark over here!” and “those fish look like dinosaurs!” Some students were familiar with lake sturgeon and shared their knowledge, thanks in part to a popular science exhibit, Sturgeon in the Classroom, offered by the Michigan Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow.
Throughout the day staff was able to interact with nearly 2,000 students ranging from the 3rd to the 8th grades, answering questions about lake sturgeon life history and abundance in the Great Lakes. In addition to describing what work the Service is doing to help rehabilitate and monitor lake sturgeon in the St. Clair – Detroit River system, we also discussed what the Alpena FWCO’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program is doing to monitor for non-native aquatic species in the Great Lakes.
The event was a huge success. The best part was watching the look of shock on student’s faces when they saw photos of lake sturgeon over six feet long and learned the sturgeon were about 70 years old and, live right down the road.