Mystery Image Contest: August 4-18, 2014


This image is of part of the Amazon River in South America, the largest watershed (also known as a river basin or a drainage basin) in the world. Watersheds are areas of land where all of the water in them or on them drains to the same place. They provide fresh drinking water to countless land animals (including humans!) while sustaining ecosystems and individual habitats. Most watersheds drain to the ocean; those that do not are called endorheic basins and can be found in Central Asia, North Africa, central Australia, and the western United States. As the world's population and industrialization have increased, water pollution has increased accordingly. And because watersheds drain to the same point, pollution in one area of a watershed can quickly spread to all areas downstream, including the ocean. Maintaining watershed health is therefore a critical part of ensuring water quality.


This image is of the Amazon River watershed.

Photo Credit


Winning Entry

Dr. Holly Pope
St. Louis, MO

For Educators

Teaching Support

August is National Water Quality Month. Though there is more to overall water quality and availability, watersheds play a critical part in maintaining the cycle. Watersheds provide many vital ecological and hydrological functions, from providing critical habitat for many plant and animal species to collecting water from rainfall and snowmelt. If you are in the United States, use the Environmental Protection Agency's "Surf Your Watershed" tool to determine which watershed you live in and to learn more about it. Science NetLinks also has plenty of resources for learning about watersheds, water quality, and pollution. Take this month to educate yourself and others on the issues facing good water quality and watershed health.

You can use this image to help spark a discussion in your classroom about what watersheds are and the role they play in the water cycle. You also could use it to help engage your students in a citizen science project involving a watershed in your region.

Related Resources

The Water Cycle
3-5 | LESSON
Ecosystem Services - Water Purification
6-8 | LESSON
Models of the Water Cycle
6-8 | LESSON
6-8 | LESSON
Mountain Rain
The Water Cycle at Work
3-8 | TOOL
The Surfrider Foundation Explains Watersheds 101
3-12 | VIDEO
What is a Watershed
3-12 | VIDEO

Science NetLinks Mystery Image Contest Rules and Regulations

What Is the

Mystery Image Contest?

The Mystery Image Contest offers the chance to identify a science-related object based on a close-up picture of it.