Naturespeak: Whistler to Pemberton BioBlitz with iNaturalist 

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - HELPFUL SITE: Naturalist will lend a hand to those attending BioBlitz.
  • PHOTO SUBMITTED
  • HELPFUL SITE: Naturalist will lend a hand to those attending BioBlitz.

Have you ever wished there was an easy way to help identify interesting things you see in nature? Well there is and it's called iNaturalist. How it works is you first take photos of whatever you find interesting, anything from plants to birds to bugs. Then you submit them to a fun, interactive website, which automatically suggests identifications, which could be verified by experts and amateurs worldwide.

Photos can be uploaded instantly from either a cell phone or at home after you have downloaded them to your computer. If your cell phone or camera has GPS tracking enabled, then iNaturalist will automatically map and record the location of the sighting for you. Experts and amateurs alike use the app and website since it's such an easy way to keep track of sightings on maps and lists and see what others are finding. This free tool was created by the California Academy of Sciences in partnership with the National Geographic Society and so far, more than 200,000 species from around the world have been recorded.

Another useful feature on iNaturalist is that you can create "projects" for specific purposes and special events. The Whistler to Pemberton BioBlitz is coming up June 6 to 9, so we've created a "project" for it that you can search for by that name and join. This is our 13th annual BioBlitz, which is a fun event to count as many species as possible—mammals, birds, plants, frogs, fish, bugs—you name it.

A BioBlitz introduces people to real (and fun) science and the amazing diversity surrounding us. After the past 12 years, more than 1,300 Whistler species have been documented for the first time by BioBlitz. We've invited some of BC's best scientists here to take part, but sightings from the public are also a big part of the BioBlitz!

To encourage you and your friends to upload sightings to the Whistler to Pemberton BioBlitz "project" (and to get to know the website since it's super handy outside of BioBlitz as well), we have draw prizes of a $100 gift certificate to Nesters Market, a $100 gift certificate to the Bike Co. and a Ziptrek Ecotours zipline tour for two. For every sighting you submit to the "project" you will get your name in the draw. The "project" will be running the week of BioBlitz, June 3 to 9. Happy BioBlitzing!

BioBlitz public events:

• Friday, June 7, 7:30 p.m. at Legends Hotel: BC's Big & Old Trees by Andy MacKinnon and Bob Brett.

• Saturday, June 8, 7:30 p.m. at Legends Hotel: Multiple presentations—Finds of the Day and Updates from the Field.

• Saturday, June 8, 9:30 p.m. at Alpha Lake Park: Night Critters—Watch as scientists catalogue everything that comes out at night, including bats! (Cancelled if raining.)

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

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