Spring BioBlitz Report

One of the more interesting publishing phenomena of the 1980’s and early 1990’s was a book series titled, “A Day in The Life of…” This photojournalism series was organised by Rick Smolan, and each volume featured a selected location, examined over a 24-hour period. Over this time about 50 photographers were commissioned to record their assigned part of the country or state. The result was a series of 13 books, with titles such as Day in the Life of Australia, A Day in the Life of America, etc. The locations featured in the series included, America, the Soviet Union, Japan, California, Spain, Hawaii, Australia, Israel, Africa, China and Thailand. The results were coffee table size books of professional photos, all taken across the selected locale, documenting a single day. Each volume was a unique product, a snapshot of a single day in the lives of ordinary people, across the featured location. Of course, the photos were of professional quality, and selected to illustrate the lives of typical people in the course of a normal day.
It is interesting to look back at these books today, not only for their nostalgic or historic value, but to appreciate the herculean effort it took to organise this simple concept, capture one day in photos. As the years go by such books may be great interest to future generations, illustrating how normal people lived a typical life at a singular point in time.
The concept of a BioBlitz is similar, except the subject is the natural world, at a particular point in time. Our project software has been instrumental in furthering this concept of BioBlitz, providing a platform for such snapshots of nature, at a selected point in time. Looking through iNaturalist, there are 5,442 listings for projects with the word “BioBlitz”. Locations include national parks, schools, backyards and other exotic and less exotic local areas. While not only fun, according to the BioBlitz iNat sites, they also provide valuable information on various populations in nature at a certain point in time. It is useful information, and data which will serve the scientific community for many years.
Like A Day in the Life, organising a BioBlitz is a significant task, relying heavily on motivated individuals to raise awareness of the event and to take a leadership role in its organisation. This is especially true in the early stages of organisation. Think of Australia’s amazingly successful Clean Up Australia Day, which was founded in 1989 and has grown to a massive initiative across the country, and the world. In July, Australasian Fishes published an announcement about the upcoming Spring BioBlitz organised by Thomas Mesaglio (AKA the beachcomber) whose bio-blurb can be found here.
Thomas, always interested in the natural environment, has organised the official participation of Australia in this global event, for the first time. Below is his report of the event, with his thanks for the support of Australasian Fishes project members.
- Harry Rosenthal
Spring BioBlitz Report
In April earlier this year, Australia participated in the City Nature Challenge for the first time, with four cities ─ Greater Sydney, Greater Adelaide, Geelong and Redland City ─ all joining in. Notching up almost 17,000 observations in just 4 days, Australia’s debut was a successful one, especially given the event ran during our autumn when many flowers are no longer in bloom, migratory birds have left, and invertebrates are much harder to find.
The Australian City Nature Challenge organisers decided to build on this success by organising another major BioBlitz, but this time in September during our spring. Rather than limit the event to Australian cities, we decided to get as many Southern Hemisphere cities and regions involved as possible. Pitching the event as the Great Southern BioBlitz (GSB), we launched a broad social media campaign, promoting participation across all the usual channels, as well some handy advertising from Mark (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australasian-fishes/journal/38737-spring-bioblitz). Over the course of just a few months, interest in the GSB ballooned, with more and more cities signing up from all around the world until we had an incredible 137 regions or cities across 12 countries and 3 continents.
The event was a huge success. In just 4 days, over 3,000 participants contributed almost 91,000 observations across over 12,000 species! (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/great-southern-bioblitz-umbrella) Fishes, sharks and rays were strongly represented in the GSB, with 217 species observed over the 4 days, including this awesome eastern cleaner clingfish observed by @harryrosenthal (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/61281199) and a relatively rare Dunker’s pipehorse found by @tanikacs washed up onto a beach (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/60696946).
Although Cape Town stormed home to secure another major BioBlitz victory after winning the City Nature Challenge earlier in the year, with Lima also excelling, Sydney put in an awesome effort, finishing in the top 10 for number of observations (2,818) and observers (139), and 4th for number of species seen (1,137). A whopping 41% of Sydney’s diversity was plants, followed by molluscs (16%) and insects (14%). Fishes came in at 10%, highlighting an area to build on for next year!
Although organising BioBlitzes and similar events takes a lot of time, effort and outreach, it’s certainly worth it to see the amazing observations posted, and awesome engagement by naturalists of all ages and from all walks of life. Given the benefits of connecting with nature, including for physical and mental health, BioBlitzes like the GSB are a great way of overcoming those COVID blues. There are also many scientific benefits, with increased efforts to search for organisms uncovering rare and interesting finds, such as this rare, endangered isopod (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/60688593) found in Victoria by @smellmes.
We’re already starting to plan next year’s GSB, so pencil it into your diaries and expect an even bigger and more successful event!
- thebeachcomber
Posted on November 25, 2020 01:02 AM by markmcg markmcg


Thanks @thebeachcomber for organising BioBlitz! It was fun!

Posted by biniek-io over 3 years ago

You did an awesome job @thebeachcomber and were it not for the weather turning foul (in Sydney) for the first two days of the BioBlitz, our results would have been even better.

Posted by kalimata over 3 years ago

Glad you guys enjoyed it :)

Posted by thebeachcomber over 3 years ago

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