BioBlitzAmateur naturalists, students and other volunteers are invited to assist a team of scientists in a “BioBlitz” census of species on Sandy Hook, beginning September 18.

Press release from National Parks Service

For 24 hours beginning Friday, September 18, citizen scientists will perform a “BioBlitz” operation, swarming the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area and counting as many species as possible. At the same time, free fun and educational activities will take families and individuals into the coves and trails of this seven-mile peninsula on the New Jersey coast.

Co-sponsored by the American Littoral Society and the National Park Service, the BioBlitz “connects people with Sandy Hook,” in the words of Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. “The scientists and amateurs who help blitz the survey develop important information about the wildlife here, and provide a scientific basis to track changes over time”  — data that’s crucial toward gauging the effects of climate change, in addition to protecting the Hook’s role as “an environmental oasis in an urban region.”

The Blitz begins at 3 pm on September 18 at the Fort Hancock Historic Post parade grounds, and concludes 24 hours later at the same place.

Scientists and naturalists will facilitate teams cataloguing the species of Sandy Hook in the following taxa: birds; fish; mammals; reptiles and amphibians; plants, both terrestrial and marine; invertebrates, both terrestrial and marine; fungi; bryophytes. Amateur naturalists and educators will also assist with education programs. General volunteers can help out with setup, registration, social media and other tasks.

BioBlitzes are important to the National Parks Service as a way to engage the “Next Generation Stewards” of our national parks. As the NPS prepares to celebrate its Centennial in 2016, the agency encourages programs for citizens to “Find Your Park” through engaging, educational and fun activities such as BioBlitzes. More than 100 BioBlitzes have occurred in America’s national parks.

More than 150 scientists, naturalists and volunteers assisted Sandy Hook’s first BioBlitz in 2011. They identified 433 species, including 155 terrestrial plant species, 104 bird species and 83 insects and other terrestrial invertebrates. (Sandy Hook is a major migratory stop along the Atlantic Flyway.)

The data collected by volunteers during the 24-hour race against time will reveal a composite snapshot of the diversity of habitats and species at Sandy Hook on land and sea. This information can assist the NPS as it protects species and habitats. The exercise will also increase public understanding of Sandy Hook as one of the only areas on the New Jersey shore that has never been subject to public commercial development. After more than seven decades as an Army fort, Sandy Hook became a unit of Gateway when the national park was formed in 1972.

Limited overnight accommodations and camping will be available to volunteers working multiple shifts. Those wishing to sign up to participate in BioBlitz may do so here. More information can be obtained here.