A wetland is an area where the water table is at, near, or above the land surface long enough during the year to support the growth of water-dependent plants. Wetlands form along the edges of streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, estuaries, sounds, bays and the ocean. Common types of wetlands include ponds, marshes, swamps and bogs. Marshes support grasses, swamps have water-loving trees, and in bogs, only plants that can grow in soils with no oxygen survive. Some wetlands are permanently covered or saturated with water, others are only wet for part of the year. Wetlands help regulate water flow, providing flood control. They act as giant sponges, soaking up water when it rains, and slowly releasing it into the ground or surface water throughout the year. As water seeps through wetlands into groundwater, harmful contaminants can be filtered out and removed from the water cycle. They also serve as nurseries for both freshwater and marine fish and shellfish, as well as providing habitat for birds and mammals.
Websites to learn about Wetlands in your Area
N.C. Division of Coastal Management- What Are Wetlands? This is great for all things wetlands in North Carolina. Learn about their function and value, the state conservation plan, wetland restoration and more.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Online Wetlands Mapper Just click on the map and zoom in to where you'd like to see wetlands data. If you zoom in far enough, you can also see shaded relief.