Whistler Naturalists celebrate first BioBlitz 

Scientists battle clock to count species over 24-hour period this weekend

click to enlarge Bats are one of the features in the Night Critters event on Saturday night. Photo by Bob Brett.
  • Bats are one of the features in the Night Critters event on Saturday night. Photo by Bob Brett.

Have you ever wondered just how many species of plants and animals Whistler supports? The Whistler Naturalists invite you to join them as they attempt to find out.

At noon Saturday, Aug. 11, 30 scientists from near and far will gather in Whistler to battle against the clock in a 24-hour race to count as many species as possible: mammals, birds, plants, frogs, fish, insects — you name it.

“The genius of BioBlitz is that it takes a fun and competitive approach to science. The 24-hour, round-the-clock format leads to a frenzy of activity as the number of organisms grows ever higher. And there will be something to interest people of all ages,” said Bob Brett, a local scientist who is part of the organizing team.

BioBlitz will target alpine and valley ecosystems across Whistler, with Lost Lake Park acting as a hub for all of the weekend’s activities. There will be plenty of opportunities for people to participate at Lost Lake throughout the event. There will be tents and displays of scientists’ findings as well as a number of public events.

One feature event is Night Critters, which will target bats, owls, insects, and other creatures of the night. Night Critters will start Saturday at 8:30 p.m. for participants of all ages.

For children, events include Swamp Monsters on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., where children aged 5-9 can join local scientist Veronica Woodruff to explore Whistler’s aquatic insects. On Sunday, ecologist Cara Richard will team up with Veronica to put on the BioBits Scavenger Hunt in which children aged 5-10 can learn about Whistler’s natural environment in a fun and interactive setting. All children must be accompanied by an adult. All events are free of charge.

"BioBlitz is not only a fun way for locals to discover the amazing diversity in our backyard," says Naturalist Kristina Swerhun, "documenting our biodiversity is the essential first step if we plan to protect it."

BioBlitz winds up at noon Sunday, where the final tally of results will be announced. Public events are continuing to be developed over time, and people interested in taking part are encouraged to visit www.whistlerbioblitz.ca for regular updates on the weekend’s events.

“BioBlitz is a great opportunity for people to learn about all the species that live in Whistler,” said organizer Betty Rebellato. “I think we’ll all be amazed with how many species the scientists uncover.”

Support for BioBlitz is provided by the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation EFund, the Community Foundation of Whistler, AWARE, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

“The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Environmental Fund considers BioBlitz to be a very important event for understanding biodiversity in the Whistler Valley,” said Kathy Jenkins, Environmental Coordinator for Whistler-Blackcomb. “If we want to protect our natural environment, it is vital we learn what species are here and where they live.”

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