BioBlitz is coming back 

Whistler Naturalist celebrate third annual critter hunt Aug. 8 and 9

More than 30 scientists will descend upon Whistler Aug. 8-9 to scour forests, alpine, lakes and wetlands for as many animals and plants as they can find in the 2009 BioBlitz.

The 24-hour, round-the-clock race to count as many species as possible is put on by Whistler Naturalist and has become an annual event in the resort municipality.

"BioBlitz has become an integral part of Whistler's summer," said organizer Bob Brett.

"This year, we are excited to have another great group of scientists to share their enthusiasm and knowledge. BioBlitz is fun for all ages, and we especially love to see kids, bug-eyed in amazement, finding out how fun it is to learn about nature."

The third-annaul BioBlitz takes place between noon on Aug. 8 and noon on Aug. 9 at Alpha Lake Park.

The first two BioBlitz events each uncovered approximately 600 species, including a total of 300 species never before recorded in Whistler. In fact, Whistler's BioBlitzes have been so successful that the Lower Mainland, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, have also decided to hold their own races to count species.

Two special events are also on the books this year for kids curious about critters: The Wild Things Scavenger Hunt from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and the Swamp Monsters event from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, where kids will get to check out the animals and plants the scientists have found.

Both events are geared towards kids aged six to 12 years old and children must be accompanied by an adult.

The Whistler Museum Speaker Series is also putting on an event with bats, owls, insects and other nocturnal creatures on Saturday, starting at 7:30 p.m. The up close and personal experience is aptly named "Night Critters."

The first BioBlitz was held in 1996 in Washington, D.C. and has grown in popularity since then. BioBlitzes help scientists put together a list of species in an area in a relatively short period of time, while also promoting science in a fun and interactive way.

Whistler's 2009 species tally will be announced at noon on Sunday, Aug. 9.

"BioBlitz is all about fun," said organizer Kristina Swerhun.

"Everyone has a smile on their face as they poke and prod and learn. But there's a serious side, too, since the data is fed into the Whistler Biodiversity Project to help improve our knowledge about local species. After all, you need to know what species are here before you can protect them."

Support for BioBlitz is provided by the Whistler Blackcomb EFund, Community Foundation of Whistler, AWARE, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Whistler Museum and Archives and the Whistler Biodiversity Project.

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