BioBlitzes in a New Format Coming up in July

Fawn Custer (kneeling), CoastWatch's citizen science trainer, leads a BioBlitz at Cascade Head.

A BioBlitz is an intensive survey of a defined area with the goal of identifying all the species to be found in that area at one time, generally involving members of the public assisted by experts. It is a snapshot of biodiversity.  In past years, coastal conservation organizations including our CoastWatch program have sponsored BioBlitz days at each of Oregon’s marine reserves.  But the pandemic restrictions have blocked the usual approach of inviting all comers to join in at a particular location on a particular day.

This year, in order to responsibly comply with social distancing guidelines, BioBlitzes will still take place, but in a different form.  The Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve initially developed this new approach for their area, but the other marine reserves have joined in, and now all are participating.  The method for 2020 will be a hybrid—instruction will be provided online, and volunteers are then asked to explore with their own household groups, and record observations through the iNaturalist app over a ten-day period.

Those interested are invited to join the Friends of Cape Falcon and other marine reserve groups for an orientation webinar on Thursday, July 16, at 6 p.m.  To register, go here.

The speakers in the webinar include Margaret Treadwell of the Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, plus:

  • Paul Robertson, Cascade Head Marine Reserve
  • Dennis White, Otter Rock Marine Reserve
  • Tara DuBois, Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve
  • Tara Ramsey, Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve

Learn more about iNaturalist and how to get started using it at:
https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started

The BioBlitz, rather than taking place on one day as usual, runs through July 26.

This hybrid version of the BioBlitz enables participants to go whenever the low tide, weather and ocean swell conditions are suitable and fit the participant’s own schedule. The first low tide of the event will be on July 17th at sunrise and collections will end on Sunday, July 26th at 2pm. Pick a low tide (preferably a minus tide) time when daylight is plentiful, giving yourself ample time to safely return home. It is best to arrive at least an hour before low tide, so you have plenty of time to explore the intertidal region. Also be mindful of the ocean swell conditions which may make reaching the rocks unsafe and may change throughout the day. Check the current outlook and always use your best judgement when visiting the ocean.

BioBlitzers are asked to take photos, but not remove any organisms; observe from a safe distance so as not to disturb wildlife; and pick up trash while there.  Dress for the weather, bring face coverings and hand sanitizer as well as water and snacks, come with a phone already loaded with the iNaturalist app, and if possible bring a spotting scope.

During BioBlitz activities, remember to stay six feet away from anyone not in your household group, and follow the Governor’s guidelines, including:

• Stay home if you are sick.
• To avoid exposure to COVID-19, people who are at risk for severe complications (over age 60 or have underlying medical conditions) should stay home even if you feel well.
• If you become symptomatic (cough, fever, shortness of breath) while in public, please return home and self-isolate immediately. Contact your health care provider if you need
medical attention.
• Practice good hand hygiene with frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol content).
• Cover coughs/sneezes with elbow or tissue. If you use a tissue, immediately discard tissue in garbage and your wash hands.
• Avoid touching your face.
• Use cloth, paper or disposable face coverings in public.
• Stay close to home. Avoid overnight trips and minimize other non-essential travel, including recreational day trips to destinations outside the community where you live. For this year, BioBlitz participants should be those who reside near Cape Falcon.