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Sanibel Sea School conducts camp-wide BioBlitz

By SANIBEL SEA SCHOOL - | Jan 29, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Sanibel Sea School campers counted 48 species on their BioBlitz during winter camp.

During the Sanibel Sea School’s annual winter camp, “New Year, New Ocean,” staff highlighted the importance of biodiversity and conservation.

“In order to conserve the natural environment, it is important to first understand what creatures are living in our local environment and how many there are,” Education Programs Manager Shannon Stainken said. “With this information, we can then recognize what is abundant, what may be new to the area and what needs more protection.”

One way to conduct a survey like this is through a “BioBlitz.” A BioBlitz is an event where citizens in a community come together to record as many species as they can find, including plants, animals and even fungi. Bioblitzing creates a stronger connection between humans and nature and encourages participants to enjoy the great outdoors.

The Sanibel Sea School conducted a BioBlitz during the camp around Sanibel’s east end. On the beaches, campers found plant species, such as sea oats, prickly pear cactus and sea purslane.

“It was great to see campers find and record plant species, because many of them are new to plant identification,” Stainken said.

Campers also found a diversity of creatures on the beaches, including ghost crabs, sea urchins and coquinas. Many bird species were also present including osprey, sandwich terns, willets and fish crows. In total, 48 species were counted between two groups of campers.

“This was a great exercise for our campers because they were learning how to conduct a biological survey and discovering new species,” Stainken said. “Many of them were surprised by the diversity of plants and animals they found.”

Interested in doing a BioBlitz? The public can participate in similar community science projects to monitor butterflies, birds and more. Some of the Sanibel Sea School’s favorites include: eBird, eButterfly and iNaturalist.

Part of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation family, the Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.