BioBlitz kicks off weekend of species discovery

Animals and plant life await to be observed in the second Southeast Alaska BioBlitz, taking place Saturday and Sunday at the University of Alaska Southeast campus and the surrounding area.


Scientists and community volunteers of all ages will spread out across Auke Lake, the creeks and forests nearby, the muskeg, the tidal and intertidal zones at Auke Bay and out onto Auke Bay itself in boats to observe sea creatures and birds. The goal, said Karen Blejwas, a member of the BioBlitz steering committee, is “to count as many species as we can find in the survey area.” Blejwas hopes that BioBlitz will help to make those involved more aware of the biodiversity surrounding them and of how important it is.

Registration and the opening ceremony for BioBlitz will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and a starting gun will kick off the survey itself at 2 p.m. BioBlitz is an event for the entire family, and the survey will be complemented by public presentations at UAS, workshops and educational activities, said Riley Woodford, also a member of the BioBlitz steering committee.

Most of the other activities will take place on Saturday, such as presentations on night animals, hummingbirds and insects. Blejwas said that she will be giving a presentation on finding bats, and afterward she will host demonstrations in the surrounding area. Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc. (DIPAC) will be providing sea creature touch tanks, which Blejwas said were a “big hit” last year.

According to Woodford, last year’s BioBlitz was based out of Eaglecrest Lodge and was focused on the Fish Creek watershed on Douglas Island. This year’s event will happen in much the same way and will cover a large area around UAS, from Spaulding Meadows to Auke Lake, down Auke Creek, and covering Auke Bay including the tidal and intertidal zones.

The event will end at 2 p.m. on Sunday, when the survey teams will tally the species and compare the findings with the results from last year. In 2010, 797 species were found in the Fish Creek watershed.

According to Woodford, the 2011 BioBlitz is a cooperative effort between the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, UAS, the Juneau Economic Development Council and 10 nonprofits, including DIPAC and the Juneau Audubon Society.

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