Biscayne National Park Looking For Help With Counting Park's Life

On April 30-May 1 there will be a "BioBlitz" at Biscayne National Park to count as many species above, and below, the water as possible. Though 95 percent water, Biscayne also attracts a good number of insects, such as this Schaus Swallowtail butterfly. NPS photo.

Gauging the diversity of life in Biscayne National Park's boundaries will be the task late this month when the park stages a "BioBlitz" with the help of the National Geographic Society.

Beginning April 30 and running for 24 hours, the inventory will bring together teams of scientists, naturalists, community leaders, students, and the public to discover and catalog as many plants and creatures in and out of the water at Biscayne.

This free, two-day, round-the-clock event is part scientific endeavor, part festival and part outdoor classroom, according to park officials. The BioBlitz’s goals are to record as many living organisms in the park as possible in 24 hours, to increase awareness of the diverse species found in Miami’s closest national park, and to better understand how to protect the natural environment in the future.

Sylvia Earle, renowned oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and Kenny Broad, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and director of the University of Miami’s Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, are among the participating scientists.

The “Celebrate Biodiversity Festival” will follow the species count on May 1, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Highlights of the festival include family activities, live music, demonstrations, displays, presentations and opportunities to talk with scientists and see them in action. The “Endangered World” art exhibition, with Miami artist Xavier Cortada, will also be featured at the festival.

“Explorers” of all ages are invited. Activities will be ongoing throughout the two-day event at the main “base camp” located at Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center and at a smaller “base camp” on Elliott Key. Advance registration is required to reserve a spot on a snorkeling boat or “ferry” to Elliott Key, where many of the inventories will take place.

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.