Calling all citizen scientists: Sandy Hook BioBlitz wants you!

Have fun with fungi--or, help identify plants, birds or other forms of life at the Sandy Hook BioBlitz. Photo courtesy of the American Littoral Society.
Have fun with fungi--or help identify plants, birds or other forms of life at the Sandy Hook BioBlitz.

Photo courtesy of the American Littoral Society

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News Release Date: September 8, 2015

Contact: Daphne Yun, 718-354-4602

For 24 hours, citizen scientists will swarm the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, counting as many species as possible. At the same time, free fun and educational activities will take families and individuals into the coves and trails of this seven-mile peninsula on the New Jersey coast. The BioBlitz is co-sponsored by the American Littoral Society (ALS) and the National Park Service (NPS).

"The BioBlitz connects people with Sandy Hook," said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. "The scientists and amateurs who help blitz the survey develop important information about the wildlife here, and provide a scientific basis to track changes over time –information needed to protect the Hook's role as an environmental oasis in an urban region. We can watch for changes due to Hurricane Sandy and the overall effects of climate change."

The event begins at 3 P.M. on Friday, September 18 at the Fort Hancock Historic Post parade grounds and concludes 24 hours later at the same place.Limited overnight accommodations and camping will be available to volunteers working multiple shifts. Those wishing to sign up may do so at http://shbioblitz15.ciesin.columbia.edu/

Scientists and naturalists will facilitate teams cataloguing the species of Sandy Hook in the following taxa: birds;fish;mammals;reptiles and amphibians;plants, both terrestrial and marine;invertebrates, both terrestrial and marine;fungi;bryophytes. Amateur naturalists and educators will also assist with education programs. General volunteers can help out with setup, registration, social media and other tasks.

BioBlitzes are important to the NPS as a way to engage the "Next Generation Stewards" of our national parks. As the NPS prepares to celebrate its Centennial in 2016, the agency encourages programs for citizens to "Find Your Park" through engaging, educational and fun activities such as BioBlitzes. More than 100 BioBlitzes have occurred in America's national parks.

The data collected by volunteers during the 24-hour race against time will reveal a composite snapshot of the diversity of habitats and species at Sandy Hook on land and sea. This information can assist the NPS as it protects species and habitats. The exercise will also increase public understanding of Sandy Hook as one of the only areas on the New Jersey shore that has never been subject to public commercial development. After more than seven decades as an Army fort, Sandy Hook became a unit of Gateway when the national park was formed in 1972.

More than 150 scientists, naturalists and volunteers assisted Sandy Hook's first BioBlitz in 2011. They identified 433 species, including 155 terrestrial plant species, 104 bird species and 83 insects and other terrestrial invertebrates. (Sandy Hook is a major migratory stop along the Atlantic Flyway.)

About Gateway National Recreation Area

Established in 1972, Gateway National Recreation Area offers more than 26,000 acres of marshes, wildlife sanctuaries and recreational athletic facilities, miles of sandy beaches;indoor and outdoor classrooms;picnicking and camping areas, as well as historic structures and military installations, airfields, a lighthouse, and adjacent waters around New York harbor. The park offers urban residents in two states a wide range of recreational opportunities year round. Gateway is one of the ten most visited national parks in the country. For information about Gateway's upcoming public programs, see the park's Web site at https://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm. To join the conversation about Gateway, like us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/Gatewaynps.

—NPS—

Last updated: September 9, 2015

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