Families are encouraged to participate in a Long Beach wide survey of local plants and animals. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Photo)

Pacific Rim set to host Bioblitz

Animal and plant species inventories over two-day event

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is planning a 24-hour cram session to investigate what’s living on and around Long Beach.

Round-the-clock surveys will be conducted from May 20-21 as researchers and volunteers create a comprehensive inventory of the Long Beach Unit’s plant and animal life through a BioBlitz event being coordinated by Diana Lukinuk.

“We get out there and try to identify as many plants and animals as possible within a designated time period, for us it’s 24 hours, and try to basically get a snapshot of biodiversity at that time,” Lukinuk said. “I was lucky enough to participate in the Gulf Islands’ BioBlitz last summer and saw how much fun it was. It’s really a spectacularly good time so I’m thrilled that we’re doing one here in Pacific Rim.”

The two-day exploration marathon will offer locals and visitors opportunities to follow along with formal surveys led by invited scientists and naturalists.

A base camp set up on Wickaninnish Beach next to the Kwisitis Visitor Centre will serve as a hub for less formal, family friendly activities including unique educational booths and touch tanks full of ocean creatures from the Ucluelet Aquarium. Base camp festivities will run from noon-5 pm on May 20 and 9 a.m. to noon on May 21.

“Everyone is welcome and we’ve got a little bit of something for everyone,” Lukinuk said. “There’s going to be a whole lot going on…It’s a lot of fun so I definitely recommend everybody come.”

BioBlitz events have been enjoyed at other Parks Canada sites, but this is the first to be hosted at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Lukinuk said the local surroundings offer a perfect storm for fascinating finds.

“I’m hoping that it might become an annual thing if it goes well,” she said adding Parks Canada has scheduled 24 BioBlitzes across the country this year in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

“I’m particularly excited because of the biodiversity that we have. Where we’re located: the moderate temperatures, the offshore upwelling of nutrients, cold ocean water, all contributes to really spectacular biodiversity. It’s going to be, I think, very helpful to get that inventory snapshot of how diverse it is here because that can help support conservation decisions and, if we make it a regular thing, it’s very useful for our resource conservation and sciences teams.”

She added she’s excited to see what’s discovered.

“Not only does it help us generate that inventory of what we do have here in the Park, but there’s the opportunity to discover rare species that we might not know are there,” she said. “For example, at Fort Rodd Hill’s BioBlitz last year, they discovered a species of mushroom that was new to British Columbia.”

She added the event will help connect locals and visitors to the Park Reserve’s phenomenal surroundings.

Anyone wanting to participate in either the formal surveys or base camp fun, is encouraged to register ahead of time at www.PacRimBioBlitz2017.eventbrite.ca

All participants should remember to pack a lunch, bring plenty of water, and dress weather appropriate.