– Jim Gale –
We pull on chest waders, new out of the box provided for us at Muir Woods National Park. Steve, an invertebrate stream ecologist, welcomes us beneath the towering 65 meter redwoods. Our hearts beat in anticipation as we walk into the stream. He demonstrates our sampling method and we each stir the rocks upstream above the net. The water turns murky. Are we are catching something? We are at a Bioblitz, occurring just a half hour north of San Francisco and sponsored by Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the National Park Service and National Geographic. We are part of a citizen science and youth educational program, with 200 scientists and 5000 school kids and 10,000s of visitors to the park, that are here to inventory and celebrate the biodiversity of life. All of this must be done, or at least attempted, in just 24 hours! Our eyes bulge as we look through our hand lenses and see the hairs and barbs on the invertebrate legs that allow them to attach to rocks in the fast current!
This description is just a small sample of the science and excitement of a Bioblitz, which was organized this past spring in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which 16 million people visit annually.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the Island of Hawaii, will host, with National Geographic, a Bioblitz on May 15-16, 2015. The Bioblitz will combine science and Hawaiian spiritual values of I ka nānā no a ‘ike…By observing one learns. We plan to connect both youth and adults to scientists and cultural practitioners, to promote scientific exploration and the awareness of the interconnectedness among the native plants and animals, the environment, traditional people, and our daily lives. This is our goal for the celebration of the diversity of life and culture, as we design our Bioblitz at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Combining culture and science, fulfills our management objectives as well as the needs of the visitor. Visitors come to see one of the world’s most active volcanoes and many come because this is the sacred home of Pele Honunea Mea, the goddess of both constructive and destructive forces. We hope that by having a Hawaiian perspective, visitors to this Bioblitz will further understand and appreciate the life and life styles of these islanders, and how they value diversity. Hawaiians are keen observers and have developed a two-part naming system to talk about plants, hundreds of years before we started using genera and species to identify plants and animals.
Hopefully, participants will want to plant their backyards in Hawaii with native plants like Mamaki, so that the Blackburn butterfly can lay its eggs and they can hatch to form caterpillars which will metamorphose into butterflies. Wouldn’t that be fun? Or plant Ohia trees so that the honeycreepers will inhabit home backyards, as a source of nectar for insects. That will be the true success of this Bioblitz – if people will take inspiration from it and value and celebrate the diversity of life, by making it a part of their everyday lives.
Header photograph by: Edwin Bernbaum