Swamps get a bad rap. People think of ‘swamps’ as the most ugly, mucky, gross place to be (heck, Shrek lives in one), but the word ‘swamp’ merely means a forested wetland. What are two of the most popular destinations for nature walks? Forests and wetlands, baby! Swamps are gorgeous and super vital to the ecosystem!
This beautiful destination is the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia:
Ever heard of the “Great Dismal Swamp” in Virginia? Do you imagine the most depressing, gross, scary place you’ve ever seen? It might look a bit haunting, but look how gorgeous the Great Dismal Swamp can be:
Oh yeah, did I mention that swamps are unbelievably rich in wildlife and rare plant species? For example, the Great Dismal Swamp has over 200 species of birds, over 70 species of reptiles and amphibians, and booming mammal populations (you’re very likely to see black bears and otters, for example). That doesn’t sound so dismal to me.
Speaking of wildlife, the Pantanal swamps in Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia are home to some rare and gorgeous animals like jaguars, hyacinth macaws, capybaras, caiman, giant otters, maned wolves, and more.
It’s easy to understand why swamps might get a bad reputation. They’re hard to travel on foot (many swamps now have boardwalk trails and canoe tours), and the stagnant water can smell bad and give a home to many bugs, which spread diseases. Cool animals like crocodiles and jaguars are bad news if you’re lost in the swamp and come face to face with one. But swamps are super important to the planet and are often way more beautiful than what you may be picturing!
One cool thing swamps do is absorb excess water like sponges so the surrounding areas don’t get badly flooded. In addition to the many animals that live in swamps, swamp plants often have medicinal value or other practical purposes. And despite their reputation for being dirty, swamps actually purify water because their thick plant growth and soil absorb impurities in the water!
Anyway, don’t drain the swamps!
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