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Bioblitzes Need Citizen Scientists of All Ages

Category: General Article

Back to Youth Activities: Citizen Science

Ian Throckmorton is looking for a few good citizen scientists.

Ian, an employee with the Education Department at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, has been working for months to organize a series of “bioblitzes” taking place in July 2018.

“A bioblitz is an intensive period of biological surveying within a given area in order to determine which species are living there,” Ian explains. “You can think of it like a snapshot of biodiversity. The data our citizen scientists gather during just a few hours will help scientists catalogue and monitor local species.”

The bioblitzes will be conducted in the intertidal area adjacent to three of Oregon’s marine reserves, offshore areas which are protected for conservation purposes and scientific study.

All the state reserves are located within three nautical miles (3.45 miles or 5.5 km) of shore and have associated parks, beaches and natural areas. While the reserves are open to recreational activities like SCUBA diving and surfing, fishing and other extractive activities are all prohibited. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are conducting research to determine impacts of the reserves as a wildlife management tool.

To help with the survey, Ian is looking for volunteers from the public.

“The bioblitzes are free and open to anyone who wants to participate, although those under 18 years of age should be accompanied by an adult,” he said.

Bioblitz Dates and Locations:

Where: Otter Rock Marine Reserve (Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area), Oregon
When: Saturday, July 14, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Where: Cascade Head Marine Reserve (North end of Road’s End Beach), Oregon
When: Sunday, July 15, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve (Meet at Visitor Center), Oregon
When: Tuesday, July 17, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

How to Prepare for a Bioblitz:

To capture data in the field, volunteers should download a free mobile device app called iNaturalist before arriving for their bioblitz. (Download for Google Play | Download of iOS devices). This unique technology will allow volunteers to capture images, GPS coordinates, population numbers, and observation notes about the animals in their assigned areas. The app works on all Android and iOS smart devices even if they don’t have data coverage at the time. All the data will be uploaded to iNaturalist.org, which acts as a global repository for biological information and will enable biologists to see what the volunteers discovered during the bioblitzes.

Aside from bringing your own smart device pre-loaded with the iNaturalist app, Ian suggests you dress appropriately for the outdoor experience.

“Remember, you’ll be near the water and the weather can be highly variable on the coast,” he said. “Wear sturdy shoes and a waterproof outer layer. It’s also a great idea to bring binoculars, cameras, food and water.”

Additional information on preparing for an outdoor experience while staying safe can be found here.

More Information and Questions:

Interested citizen scientists can learn more by emailing Ian.Throckmorton@aquarium.org.

If you plan to attend one of the listed bioblitzes, please RSVP for it on the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Facebook page.

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Need a refresher on the Global Positioning System before you head out for the bioblitz? This short video provides a thumbnail sketch of how this technological marvel can help you find any place on Earth!