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BayQuest — A Journey of Exploration

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Scripts of Activities and Video Transcripts

Please note: These transcripts are taken from conversations Alice Jane and Bob Lippson had with our staff. Some of the sentence constructions are not those found in formal writing or presentations; instead, they represent the actual words these noted experts said. If you use this page with students, you should make them aware of this.


Wetlands

Ever wonder . . . What are wetlands?
Wetlands are grasses and shrubs and sometimes even certain trees that can live in the moist, salty soil. Wetlands are probably the heart-throb of Chesapeake Bay. This is where we start life, in the wetlands.

Ever wonder . . . Where does the food chain start?
Detritus is really the basic food of the Bay. Actually, most animals don’t eat detritus. But there is an organism that does multiply and feed on detritus, and that’s bacteria. And bacteria just swarm all over detritus, or organic ooze, or the remains of the plants, whatever you want to call it. These are good bacteria. And, as these bacteria start feeding on this material, they multiply by the billions. And they’re doing it just at the right time, when the striped bass are spawning. And when these little things called copepods, which are little arthropods that look sort of like miniature crabs (they are almost microscopic), they all feed on the bacteria that are feeding on the detritus. And there’s the start of the food chain.

Ever wonder . . . Why are wetlands so squishy?
Sounds and smell of wetlands, I like to think of as “Squish, squish” … the water, sort of going through your feet. And sometimes you sink in up to your knees, and sometimes you’re walking right on top of the marsh and it’s nice and dry. “Squish, squish” should do it, though, for a marsh. And how does a marsh smell? At low tide again, because of all the organic material, we have that smell of rotten eggs, the sulfur and iodine that’s so common, and is something that determines, really, what a normal and healthy marsh smells like. It’s not a bad place at all. It’s not an evil place. It’s a good place.

Ever wonder . . . Are wetlands in trouble?
Wetlands are endangered, ah, pretty much all along the Atlantic Coast, and certainly in Chesapeake Bay. They’re very fragile. It’s a very, very special place. They need certain requirements. They need to have two tides a day generally. They need healthy growing conditions. And, when man starts to build shopping centers and roads and schools (which are certainly important) and lots of houses and so on, it changes the flow of the sediment, and the sediment sometimes covers over the marshes. And also, lots of developers like to look at marshes and say, “Marshes really aren’t worth anything. This would be a really nice place to put a whole community of houses, or a new shopping mall.” or so on. So, we are always struggling to save the marshes which are really the heartbeat of the Bay.

Ever wonder . . . What’s so special about wetlands
The wetlands are really the most important starting point of the health of the Bay. Not only does it provide food through the organic materials called detritus, but it also filters out lots of toxic materials and lots of sediment. And without the Bay [wetlands], the waters would be much murkier and there would be less food.

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