Naturespeak: BioBlitz focuses on big and old trees 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BOB BRETT - TREE TIME Check out trees like the thuja plicata ancient cedars at BioBlitz this weekend.
  • Photo by Bob Brett
  • TREE TIME Check out trees like the thuja plicata ancient cedars at BioBlitz this weekend.

This year is Whistler's 13th annual BioBlitz, an event to share knowledge about all living things and to collect scientific data on what species live here. In the past 12 years, BioBlitz scientists have documented over 1,300 species for the first time.

The focus this year is on B.C.'s big and old trees and we have some exciting presentations Friday night. Andy MacKinnon and Shaun Muc will speak about B.C.'s big-tree registry, the reasons why big trees are such amazing creatures and why they are so important. Local tree detective Bob Brett will also introduce some of Whistler's oldest trees that are accessible by walking, biking, or an easy drive.

New to BioBlitz this year is a tree climbing crew from Expedition Old Growth. These experienced climbers specialize in taking people up into the canopy to experience a view that very few people in the world have experienced. During BioBlitz they'll be collecting select canopy life for our scientists on the ground to identify. We're excited to see what treasures they discover!

Our other public event will be on Saturday night where a collection of some of B.C.'s leading scientists will share their Finds of the Day and updates from whatever area they are studying. The event will conclude at Alpha Lake Park where there will be a variety of presentations and demonstrations on topics from tree climbing and animal tracking, to night critters like owls, bats and night insects.

Another way the public can be involved is to join our iNaturalist Contest. INaturalist is a free app and website (iNaturalist.org) where the public can help contribute to BioBlitz. Once you create an account and join the "Whistler to Pemberton BioBlitz 2019" project, your sightings from June 3 to 9 will be recorded for BioBlitz. For every sighting you will get one entry in the draw to win one of our prizes: a $100 gift certificate to Nesters, a $100 gift certificate to the Bike Co, or a ZipTrek Eagle tour for two (see Naturespeak, Pique, May 30).

Our BioBlitzing days are Saturday and Sunday where we will be covering Whistler to Pemberton, from forest floor to canopy, and from valley bottom wetlands to mid-elevation. Our group of nearly 60 visiting and local scientists includes junior scientists from the local schools who will be learning what a day in the life of a field biologist is like.

One of our most rewarding aspects of BioBlitz is engaging with local students. If you know someone at Spring Creek Elementary or Myrtle Philip Community School, there's a good chance one of our scientists will be giving their class a presentation either Thursday or Friday. Presentations vary and include nature walks, slide shows, and a chance to use dissecting microscopes. A few of the science and biology classes at Whistler Secondary are also getting special BioBlitz presentations.

We hope you'll join us for BioBlitz!

Free BioBlitz Events

• Friday, June 7, 7:30 p.m. at Legends Hotel: B.C.'s Big & Old Trees.  • Saturday, June 8, 7:30 p.m. at Legends Hotel: Finds of the Day and Updates from the Field. • Saturday, June 8, 8:30 p.m.-ish at Alpha Lake Park: Demonstrations and Night Critters.

Naturespeak is prepared by the Whistler Naturalists. To learn more about Whistler's natural world go to Whistlernaturalists.ca.

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