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Albemarle- Pamlico Environmental Education  Activity Kit

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More Than Just a Swamp

Activity Description:  To facilitate an understanding of wetlands by completing puzzles.
A sketch of a typical swamp in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine area
Objectives: Age Group:  Grades 4 - 5

Materials:  Pencil


Wetlands are very important to the well-being of many plants and animals, including people. In North Carolina, wetlands make up approximately 17 percent of the State. But what are these areas, and what do they do? A wetland is the area between dry land and open water. It is sometimes covered with a shallow layer of water, but there are also wetlands which can be dry for part of the year. The plants and animals which live there are adapted to this watery environment. There are many different types of wetlands.

Another sketch of a swamp
Wetland Types:

Swamp - Wetland where trees and shrubs grow which are flooded throughout most
of the year are considered swamp.

Bottomland - These are the lowlands along streams and rivers that experience both wet and dry periods during the year. They are often forested.

Marsh - Marshes are the wet areas filled with a variety of grasses and rushes. They
can be found in both freshwater areas and in the saltwater areas near our coast.

Pocosin - These are the wet areas with evergreen trees and shrubs growing on peat or sandy soils. Peat is a spongy-feeling material made up of decaying plants. The word pocosin comes from the Algonquin Indian word meaning "swamp on a hill."

Wetland Functions:

Flood Control - Excess water from heavey rains is slowed by wetland plants and stored in the low-lying areas of wetlands, preventing the waters of nearby rivers and streams from overflowing and damaging property.

Storm Buffer - Along our coast, wetlands take a beating from high winds and waves, yet remain intact.  The thick vegetation buffers the force of storms and protects the land from erosion.

Water Banks - Wetlands hold water during the wet season. This water seeps through the soil into our underground water supplies.

Water Filter - Wetlands help purify runoff waters which carry pollutants. Silt and soil, which choke aquatic life, settle out. Wastes are broken down and absorbed by aquatic plants, as are many harmful chemicals.

Nurseries - Many fish and animals use wetlands as nurseries. They provide an abundant supply of food and shelter for the young.

Home Sweet Home - Wetlands are home to many animals. A thriving wetland probably has more life in it than any other kind of habitat.

Wildlife Pantry - Wetlands are so productive, many animals depend on them for food. Many migrating birds stopover in wetlands each spring and fall to rest and feed before continuing their trip, and some will spend the winter in the wetlands.

Recreational Opportunities - Wetlands provide us with places to watch birds and animals, and to fish, boat, and hunt.

Economics - Commercial fisherman depend on the wetlands to supply us with crabs and many other types of seafood.

Wetlands in Danger!

More than half of U.S. wetlands have been lost since the 1600 s! In North Carolina, almost half of our wetlands have been lost. They have been drained to make farm fields, or filled for developments, or dredged for waterways. Wetlands become "drylands" when people fill them, build dams, or divert the water that feeds these areas.

In the past, wetlands were considered useless wastelands. Now we know that they are very valuable to people and wildlife. Changing opinions are resulting in new laws to help save wetlands, but there is still much work to be done to stop the destruction and to restore our wonderful wetlands.

Wetland Inhabitant Word Search
 Search for the types of animals found in wetlands. See if you can find:
beaver flounder wood duck clam crayfish mosquito raccoon heron bear
frog egret dragonfly sunfish turtle mink shrimp crab salamander
 Wetlands Word Search

 Wetland's Crossword
Test your wetlands knowledge by completing this wetlands crossword puzzle.
Across Down
2._______are wetlands that are flooded with water for most or all of the year, and are vegetated with trees and shrubs. 1. A use of wetlands by people.
3. A use of wetlands for food and cover by young fish and other animals. 2. Commercial fishermen depend on wetlands to 
  supply us with______to eat.
6. A wetland type found along streams and rivers.   They are flooded for part of the year and dry for part of the year. 4. Bottomland wetlands are often_____ .
7. The type of soil often found in pocosin wetlands.   It is made up of decayed plants.  5. A_________marsh does not contain salty water.
9. Peat soil feels _______.  8. A wetland type with evergreen trees and shrubs.   This word means "swamp on a hill" to the Algonquin Indians. 
11. Many kinds of_________ use wetlands for sources of food, resting sites, and cover.  10. Wetlands have the ability to remove, or______  out, pollutants from water.
12. Wetlands along the coast may lessen the damage caused by storms, and protect land from erosion since they function as a _______ .

Wetlands Crossword

Illustrations  by Sandra Koch

For additional information regarding this Web page, contact Doug Newcomb, in Raleigh, NC, at doug_newcomb@fws.gov

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