Sharing the stage with the ever famous Punxsutawney Phil since 1997, World Wetlands Day encourages government agencies, non-governmental organizations and concerned citizens to promote global awareness of wetland conservation.

In honor of the pivotal role that marshes, swamps and bogs play in maintaining the quality of the water we use every day, "Wetlands and Water Management" is this year's theme for World Wetlands Day.

In the U.S. alone, tens of thousands of acres of wetlands are lost every year, which not only shrinks the natural habitats of native species, but also weakens the ecosystem's unique ability to purify water, control floods and storm surges, and promote biodiversity.

Organizers of World Wetlands Day believe that sustainable water management policies are imperative for wetland ecosystems to continue providing these vital services to the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

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Gialova Lagoon, Peloponnese, Greece. (Photo: costanavarino/Flickr)

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Nuclear plant near wetland

Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Rockwood, Michigan. (Photo: James Marvin Phelps/Flickr)

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Bridge over Atchafalaya wetlands

Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana. (Photo: scpgt/Flickr)

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Redhead duck, London Wetland Centre, England. (Photo: law_keven/Flickr)

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Anhinga with a fish

Anhinga and fish, Green Cay Wetlands, Florida. (Photo: Kenneth Cole Schneider/Flickr)

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Chek Jawa

Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin, Singapore. (Photo: Eustaquio Santimano/Flickr)

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Sunset over wetlands

Glacier Ridge Metro Park, Plain City, Ohio. (Photo: Steve took it/Flickr)

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Duck and duckweed

Duck in duckweed, Lake HjÀlmaren, Sweden. (Photo: henrikj/Flickr)

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Naeba Summit

Summit wetland, Mount Naeba, Japan. (Photo: Matthieu Lienart/Flickr)

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Flamingoes in Africa

Flamingos, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya. (Photo: ROSS HONG KONG/Flickr)

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Celebrating wetlands across the world
Feb. 2 marks World Wetlands Day, first celebrated in 1997 to commemorate an international treaty signed to conserve the Earth's marshes, swamps and bogs.