A wetland is a unique ecosystem – an area of land saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. They are usually home to many species of plants and animals.
In the Cape Town area, we have different types of wetlands – vleis (large coastal lakes like Zeekoevlei and Rietvlei), riverine wetlands (wetlands along the banks of rivers), estuaries (where rivers meet the sea, e.g. Sandvlei) and seasonal wetlands (these fill with water every year during the rainy season).
Sadly, 50% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed. Without suitable wetland habitat, many species could soon be homeless.
Today is World Wetlands Day, when conservation organisations raise awareness about the importance of these ecosystems. This morning, Cape Town’s very own False Bay Nature Reserve was designated a Ramsar Convention site of international importance. This is the body that seeks to protect wetlands internationally.
Take a look at this insert about the reserve to see why it is such an important area for conservation:
The Two Oceans Aquarium supports World Wetlands Day. Without water there would be no life on earth. South Africa does not have an abundance of water, and in many streams, it is often polluted. Droughts and floods are also common here. Wetlands are able to reduce the severity of droughts and floods by regulating stream flow. They also:
- Purify our water
- Store our water to ensure supply during dry periods
- Prevent floods
- Recharge ground water
- Control erosion
- Provide shelter for juvenile fishes
- Provide homes for animals and plants
- Provide food for livestock
- Protect biodiversity
- Provide locations for recreation, e.g. Zeekoeivlei, Rietvlei and Rondevlei Nature Reserve
- Provide plants that can be used for houses and crafts
What can I do?
- Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium and check out our river meander exhibit – here you’ll get a glimpse of some of the animals that live in wetland areas
- Go explore a wetland area yourself today!
- Use biodegradable products to clean your house (and yourself)
- Use organic products in your garden
- Save water – one drop wasted is a drop too much!
- Tell others about the importance of wetlands
Our hope is that future generations will be able to enjoy seeing the wetland animals and plants in their natural habitat – and not just in an aquarium.