By Leslie Peart, Vice President of Education and Conservation
Over the last few days, I’ve tried in vain to sit still to write about wetlands. I sat at my computer with a stack of books and brochures, combing through scientific papers and online resources. I’ve even taken stabs at reworking articles I’d written in the past. But I’ve encountered a problem in these beautiful January days. Whether dark and spitting rain, or sunny and warm, I just couldn’t sit still.
I love wetlands. I love to explore and muck around in them, and I have shoes caked in mud in the trunk of my car to prove it. I want to experience all they have to offer, from the feisty army of fiddler crabs in the narrow patch of sand out back, to the killifish that supply herons and egrets. In our neck of the woods, wetlands taste like the redfish and drum that use them for nurseries. A “quiet” wetland, if you can find one away from the business of being human, is a virtual symphony of watery, muddy, squishy sounds, not to mention the sounds of insects and animals.
So this is the problem. Texas State Aquarium is filled and surrounded by interesting coastal wetlands that tempt me away from the office. River otters Ari and Merlin may be our most persuasive wetland ambassadors. This is no easy feat, given the Aquarium is also home to crowd favorite Bo the alligator, who was rescued from a drainage ditch (yes that’s a wetland, too) up the road near Taft. Grace, the rehabilitated Bald Eagle from Alaska; the wading birds, especially the roseate spoonbills known as the pink ladies, in the Nearshore exhibit; and Anna the diamondback terrapin in Swamp Tales, all speak volumes on behalf of wetlands every day.
From our third floor observation deck, one can take it all in – a 360 degree view of barges, ships, and bridges; Nueces Bay, the Papalote Creek Wind Farm, Indian Point, North Beach and Corpus Christi Bay. They are my playground, and yours, as well. These are the places we fish, swim, wade, sail, fly kites, walk, take pictures, and picnic. These special areas between the tides, where water and land come together, make our city habitable, enjoyable, and prosperous.
Today is World Wetlands Day. In our normal course of business, 60 seventh graders from Corpus Christi ISD will spend the morning gathering data to profile Rincon Canal and the wetlands surrounding our SeaLab facility. Two third grade classes will explore habitats and animal adaptations in our exhibits, and get up close and personal with a specially selected wetland inhabitant before heading back to school.
At 3:00 p.m., all staff that can get away will leave their desks and workspaces to meet at the corner of Burleson and West Causeway Blvd. We meet there five or six times each year to clean the precious wetland that has become a trap for windborne single-use plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, discarded fishing gear, and dumped garbage. We’ll pick up a hundred pounds of trash or more. This is how we’ll mark World Wetlands Day.
Learn more about wetlands with these great resources: