February 2nd is World Wetlands Day, celebrated internationally every year since 1997 to commemorate the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran. The Ramsar Convention represents a multi-national treaty which has facilitated work to survey, study, prioritize and conserve valuable wetland resources around the world and to promote the wise use of wetlands.
World Wetlands Day is set aside to raise awareness and appreciation for the unique, essential and fascinating wetlands that surround us every day. This year the theme is Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods. Throughout the world, more than one billion people make their living supported by wetlands. Fishing, crop farming (cranberries and rice), shellfish aquaculture, tourism, and more all depend on healthy and thriving wetlands.
On Nantucket, we are lucky to have some spectacular wetlands from the shorelines of Sesachecha and Almanac Ponds, to quaking bogs in the Middle Moors to our broad stretches of salt marsh in Madaket and Nantucket Harbors. Historically and currently many of these wetlands have provided the basis for Nantucketers to make their living including supporting both cranberry agriculture and the Nantucket Bay Scallop industry today.
Coastal salt marshes in Nantucket’s harbors provide nurseries for commercially important fish and habitat for a variety of shellfish. These marshes also filter excess nutrients from uplands, helping maintain our harbors as beneficial habitat for oysters, scallops and more. Without wetlands like the Creeks, Monomoy, Medouie and more – Nantucket’s harbors would have a hard time staying healthy enough to support our scallop industry which is still an important part of our island economy! Out of approximately 1,600 acres of salt marsh on island, the Nantucket Conservation Foundation protects approximately 1,200 acres, helping protect our island’s harbor health.
There are many ways to be connected to and appreciate the wetlands in your backyard even if they don’t directly provide your livelihood…..
So how can you celebrate World Wetlands Day on Nantucket?
Get out, take a walk and appreciate our fabulous wetlands! Post your photos on social media using #WorldWetlandsDay or maybe submit to the Ramsar photo contest (see below).
Commit to practicing sustainable fertilizer in your landscape and year this year. Check out the Nantucket fertilizer guidelines for more information and help protect both our freshwater and saltwater wetlands on island!
Support business on island that depend on wetlands! Visit your local fish store and take home some scallops for dinner. Check out the fish selection at Nantucket Fresh Catch at Bartlett Farm. Cranberry season is over but mark Oct 8th on your calendar to purchase local cranberries at the Annual Cranberry Festival!
Help protect wetlands on island: consider becoming a member or make a donation to island land conservation groups that all help to protect our wetlands from development. We would definitely appreciate it if you joined us at the Nantucket Conservation Foundation!
A photographic competition for 15-24 year olds. The photograph must be taken in a wetland and must capture how people make a living from wetlands. The winner will receive a free flight to a wetland location anywhere in the world, courtesy of Star Alliance Biosphere Connections. To enter, take a picture of your favorite wetland with your phone or digital camera between 2 February and 2 March 2016, and upload it to Ramsar Convention Secretariat’s World Wetlands Day 2016.