Help count everything from manatees to mangroves, snappers to snails, butterflies to birds when you participate as a citizen scientist in National Geographic's BioBlitz April 30 and May 1.
You can join 125 scientists and help inventory all the living organisms in Biscayne National Park, 9700 SW 328 St. in Homestead. Superstar oceanographer Sylvia Earle, National Geographic's Explorer-in-Residence, will be there, as will Kenny Broad, director of the University of Miami's Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.
Ferries and boats begin leaving the dock at 8 a.m. Saturday April 30 to carry students, teachers, scientists and volunteers to Elliott Key and dive sites to inventory the critters and plants. On shore, you can help inventory flora and fauna of the mangroves and hammocks. The goal is to gain a better understanding of what exists in the natural environment and how to protect it in the future.
Throughout the two days, activities will be ongoing at the main “base camp” located at Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center. On Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 4 p.m., there will be a Celebrate Biodiversity Festival following the species count.
Other BioBlitz events have taken place at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. This year, South Florida takes the spotlight.
Advanced registration is required to reserve a spot on the snorkling boat or ferry, although most of those now are taken. However, there still will be plenty to do on land.
No registration is needed to participate in the base camp activities or for the festival, both of which will be held at Biscayne’s Visitor Center complex. All parking for the event will be off-site, with shuttle transportation provided. To learn more about the Biscayne BioBlitz or to register, log on to www.nationalgeographic.com/bioblitz or call (800) 638-6400 ext. 6186.
P.S. Biscayne National Park's Visitor Center will be closed from Tuesday, April 27, through midnight Monday, May 3, for setup and tear-down of the BioBlitz staging equipment.