The IGFA John A. Morris Memorial Wetlands exhibit is designed to educate students and visitors about the importance of wetlands in maintaining essential fish habitat for a sustainable game fishing resource. As an outdoor living laboratory, the exhibit presents wetlands as fragile habitats teeming with life. The wetlands are rich in native vegetation and wildlife including threatened and endangered species. It naturally attracts South Florida's wading birds, turtles, American alligators, and native and naturalized exotic fishes.
The wetland environment is compressed into a four-acre area and provides an up-close experience to the visitor as they explore. Along a boardwalk, they pass through a meadow of wildflowers into the wetland ecosystems of a cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, saltwater marsh and mangrove swamp.
The geography, grading soils and hydrology of the exhibit areas mimic the natural environment. Even details such as stumps, logs, rocks, large specimen trees were not overlooked and they help to communicate a realistic perception of these complex ecosystems that are among the most productive in the world and comparable to rainforests and coral reefs.
IGFA’s intention has been to create an exhibit that provides a unique, pleasing and educational experience of both saltwater and freshwater environments not otherwise available to the general public in an urban area. We want to let the public observe, close hand, the rich and exciting variety of plants and animal life in a wetland setting. With the habitat approach, it is hoped the visitor can gain a better ecological understanding of the complex wetlands found in South Florida.