provided to The Santiva Chronicle
During Sanibel Sea School’s annual winter camp, “New Year, New Ocean,” staff highlighted the importance of biodiversity and conservation.
“In order to conserve the natural environment, it is important to first understand what creatures are living in our local environment and how many there are,” said Education Programs Manager Shannon Stainken. “With this information, we can then recognize what is abundant, what may be new to the area, and what needs more protection.”
A great way to conduct a survey like this is through a “BioBlitz.” A BioBlitz is an event where citizens in a community come together to record as many species as they can find, including plants, animals, and even fungi. Bioblitzing is a great way to create a stronger connection between humans and nature and encourages participants to enjoy the great outdoors.
Sanibel Sea School conducted a BioBlitz during winter camp around Sanibel’s east end.
On the beaches, campers found plant species, such as sea oats, prickly pear cactus, and sea purslane. “It was great to see campers find and record plant species, because many of them are new to plant identification,” said Stainken.
Campers also found a diversity of creatures on the beaches, including ghost crabs, sea urchins, and coquinas. Many bird species were also present including Osprey, Sandwich Terns, Willets, and Fish Crows.
In total, 48 species were counted between two groups of campers.
“This was a great exercise for our campers because they were learning how to conduct a biological survey and discovering new species,” said Stainken. “Many of them were surprised by the diversity of plants and animals they found.”
Interested in doing your own BioBlitz? You can participate in similar community science projects to monitor butterflies, birds, and more. Some of our favorites include: eBird, eButterfly, and iNaturalist.
Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.