Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Wetland Experience

Last Thursday, Matthew and I went again to Fort Whyte Alive for another field trip - this time about wetlands.  They do such a great job for the kids there.  They learned about what distinguishes a wetland from other bodies of water.  Do you know that a wetland must be less than two metres deep and contain slow moving (or still) water?  Thus, oceans, rivers, and other such bodies of waters cannot, by definition, be categorized as wetlands.

They learned about the types of plants and animals that grow around the wetlands, too:

And, of course, they got to go on a nature walk, to examine the various wetlands at Fort Whyte Alive.  Do you know the difference between a swamp...

...and a marsh...

OK, I'll tell you the answer.  I might sound righteous about possessing this knowledge, but I promise you that I didn't know the answer either until a few days ago!  So...both swamps and marshes are, by definition, wetlands.  But a swamp is surrounded by trees growing out of its banks - and trees that are sometimes rooted right in the water.  By contrast, a marsh does not have trees growing around its perimeter; instead, it has bull-rushes, cattails, and other reed-like plants growing around its edges.  Matthew was very proud to learn this difference, and to learn about animal life-cycles and wetland animals that undergo metamorphosis (like the frog).

Probably the highlight of the field trip for Matthew was walking on the boardwalks through the swamps and marshes...

...and spending lots of time on his belly, alongside his new friend "A," dip-netting and trying to identify what kinds of floaty little water creatures they had scooped up (Matthew is on the right):

All in all, another excellent field trip experience, and a chance to get to know new friends a bit better, too.

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