JIS News

The Institute of Jamaica’s Natural History Division has mounted a fascinating display of wetlands for the month of February under the theme, “From the mountains to the sea” at 12 East Street, downtown Kingston.
Launched on World Wetlands Day, February 2, the exhibition aims to increase awareness of the importance of wetlands, which are not wastelands as some believe, but are lush, fruitful habitats where juveniles of many important species grow.
In urging Jamaicans to protect this example of one of the island’s natural resources, Llewelyn Meggs, Assistant Educational Officer of the Institute described wetlands as marshes, swamps, rivers, mangroves and bogs – anywhere that is covered by water and has rooted vegetation.
He told JIS News that the main type of wetland in Jamaica and the Caribbean was the mangrove, which was home to juveniles of many species that are economically important such as snapper and parrot fish that lay their eggs in the mangroves.
Their young ones grow in the sheltered mangrove habitat. Turtles also have their juveniles in mangroves. Additionally, insects and birds including the brown pelican, herons, seagulls, terns, dragonflies and butterflies also flourish in the wetlands.
Another important role of wetlands is to protect the coastline from erosion by wave action, said Mr. Meggs. They protect the sea from negative influences of the land by filtering out excess fertilizers and pesticides and sediments that are harmful to the sea.
Stressing their importance, Mr. Meggs urged Jamaicans to desist from certain harmful practices such as removing sand from mangroves; dumping garbage or washing clothes and motor vehicles near these areas as the presence of detergent causes the overgrowth of algae that was harmful to the mangroves.
Removal of wetlands by using mangroves as firewood and in charcoal burning was also very dangerous as this could result in flooding, he cautioned.
Among the exhibits are colourful posters urging citizens to preserve wetland habitats by desisting from harmful practices; and a mini diorama of a wetland showing the creatures found there such as a crocodile, turtle, crab and starfish.
The exhibition will run during February, from Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Interested groups may contact the Institute to arrange guided tours.

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