Volunteers wanted for ‘bioblitz’

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Nelson nature lovers are invited to come and discover the biodiversity of The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary next weekend, in a 24-hour “bioblitz.”

The purpose of the bioblitz, which is being run in conjunction with Friends of the Maitai, is to discover and document what lives in the sanctuary. Scientists and professionals will join members of the public in the blitz which kicks off at 9am next Saturday.

Rick Field, project coordinator and educator at the sanctuary, says they will monitor five areas, covering the forest floor, canopy and the Brook Stream.

“We’re hoping to monitor fish and bats as there hasn’t been much monitoring done in the heart of the sanctuary,” he says. “But, you never know what’s going to turn up.”

Rick is also encouraging people who want to participate to download a free app called ‘iNaturalist’ on their smartphone or tablet. The app allows people to record observations with photos and GPS locations and share them with other users.

“The app is the thing that will save a lot of time, as we can record everything,” says Rick. “It will help us collate and catalogue all the observations and gives us a really good overview of what’s there.”

Rick is hoping to get schools on board too, with a programme called ‘My School, My Sanctuary,’ and he was at Richmond School last week doing a “mini bioblitz.”

“It’s really important just to take notice of the natural world that’s all around us and getting the kids outside in nature to observe,” he says.

Rick says they are encouraging the public to attend during daylight hours only, and the late night observations will be left to the professionals. He recommends people come armed with a smart phone or tablet, sensible footwear, food, drink, warm clothing, insect repellent, and equipment such as magnifying glasses, binoculars and plastic jars.

The bioblitz will be held at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary on Saturday 27 February, starting at 9am from the visitors centre. It will continue for 24 hours, ending 28 February at 9am. Experience and registration is not necessary – just show up on the day. The iNaturalist mobile app can be found on the App store or Google Play. Any questions can be sent to [email protected].