It happens every September, around the ocean and bay beaches, coves, trails, and forested areas of Sandy Hook — and for 12 hours beginning Saturday morning, “citizen scientists” of all ages are invited to assist a team of naturalists in the annual census operation known as “BioBlitz.”
Co-sponsored by the Hook-based American Littoral Society and the National Park Service, the project dispatches groups of volunteers to various corners of the Gateway National Recreation Area’s Sandy Hook unit with the assignment of counting as many species of flora and fauna as possible. At the same time, free fun and educational activities will serve to connect families and individuals with the many natural assets and treasures of this unique resource.
The Blitz begins at 10 a.m. Friday near the Littoral Society’s headquarters at the historic Fort Hancock area of the peninsula, concluding at 10 p.m.
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.)
For the 2017 initiative, teams will be assigned to catalogue various species of birds, fish, mammals, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians; in addition to terrestrial and marine plants that include bryophytes (such as mosses) and fungi. General volunteers can also help out with tasks that include registration, food preparation, GIS and photography.
As the Littoral Society’s Tim Dillingham has explained, “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 designed to assist the Parks Service as it protects species and habitats, while increasing 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.
Take it here to redbankgreen‘s Calendar for details on signing up for the BioBlitz, as well as additional info.