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Annapolis Teenager’s Photograph Earns Top Honors in National Contest

Release Date: 8/8/2003
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

Contact: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543
PHILADELPHIA - Fifteen year old Jay Fleming of Annapolis, Maryland recently took top honors in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2003 Wetlands Photography Contest. Jay’s grand prize winning photograph, “Great Egret,” was taken at Indian River Bay, a salt marsh, during a canoe trip in Delaware.

“Jay Fleming's photograph illustrates the beauty of wetlands. In addition to their beauty, wetlands serve a number of critical environmental and economic functions – including flood control, water filtration, and wildlife habitat,” said Donald S. Welsh, mid-Atlantic regional administrator.
Fleming, a 15-year-old high school sophomore, has been taking photographs for a few years, mostly with his father, a professional photographer. Jay has won a number of photo contests, including the grand prize for his school calendar. His photographs have been published in local newspapers and the Delaware Beach Life magazine.

EPA’s annual wetlands photography contest promotes art that captures the connections between wetlands and wildlife. The grand prize winner and 12 finalists highlighted this year’s theme, Wetland Wildlife, in photographs of reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds and mammals. Winning entries were displayed at the U.S. Capitol during the awards ceremony, and are now posted on EPA’s website: .

Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems on earth, comparable to coral reefs and tropical rainforests. They provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for a great diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants. Up to one-half of North American bird species nest or feed in wetlands, and one-third of the plant species in the continental United States are found in wetlands. Additionally, 95 percent of commercially harvested fish and shellfish depend on wetlands for their survival.

Wetlands help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities. Often called the kidneys of the watershed – filtering and cleaning water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants. Wetlands provide natural buffers against floods storing enormous amounts of flood water, thus reducing downstream flood damage. In addition, wetlands store and slowly release water over time, helping to maintain water flow in streams, especially during dry periods.

Despite the many benefits wetlands provide, the United States has lost over 50 percent of its original wetlands.