How many creatures call the New Hampshire Seacoast home? Find out for yourself by becoming an honorary naturalist Saturday, Sept. 15, at Odiorne Point State Park for the annual Seacoast Science Center BioBlitz.

BioBlitz is a park-wide scavenger hunt led by various scientists and naturalists from around the Seacoast region. These experts help to share their scientific perspectives with the public on the Seacoast and the life within it that might otherwise go unnoticed.

“It’s one thing to walk through the park; it’s a totally different experience to walk through the park with a mycologist who is an expert on fungi,” said Jim Chase, president of the Seacoast Science Center. “You will walk past mushrooms that you never knew were there, yet when you’re done with your time with them you may end up finding 100 different species of things that you otherwise would have totally overlooked. It changes your perspective.”

First started in 2003, the BioBlitz tradition has led to the documentation of over 2,300 species found in the park, with more being discovered each year, according to Chase.

“We have so many different habitats within the park that it leads to a wide diversity of species living within them all,” he said.

Odiorne Point State Park is home to seven different environmental habitats.

Hands-on education is at the forefront of the Science Center’s mission, and Chase believes that there is no better way to experience this than spending the day with experts in the field. Chase noted that the BioBlitz is the epitome of the center’s educational philosophy.

“We found that it was very valuable to engage the public and get them out and get them a first-hand experience,” he said. “If we can increase your understanding and awareness through up-close and personal exposure to the things that are of interest, then you are more likely to take actions in your everyday life and be motivated to take steps to conserve and preserve these important natural features.’
This event has a special meaning for Chase, as over the years it has proven to be his favorite put on by the Seacoast Science Center.

“I have the pleasure of taking a group down to Frost Point, and we will run sand nets through the intertidal habitats there. We will have 20 to 30 kids and parents going through what we find in the nets,” said Chase. “It’s incredibly hands-on, it’s incredibly engaging and I just love getting the chance to work with people as we go through those animals and go through the whole process. It’s enriching for me.”

Although primarily designed for children and families, this event is open to anyone interested in learning more about the wildlife that can be found along the New England Seacoast. With events and activities scheduled throughout the day for those hoping to get their hands dirty, as well as for those preferring to stay indoors and learn more about animals on a screen, there is something for everyone at the Seacoast Science Center’s BioBlitz, said Chase.

“The biggest draw is being able to get out into a natural setting and learn about it through the eyes of someone who has a level of expertise. One of the other core values of the science center is inspiration of this location at Odiorne Point State Park,” said Chase. “It is a remarkable and remarkably diverse setting from an ecological and historical perspective. There are rich cultural and natural histories that I think you can only find here at Odiorne and certainly here on the Seacoast.”

This rain-or-shine event costs $10 per person, or $30 for a family of up to six people. To register for this year’s BioBlitz, visit seacoastsciencecenter.org or call 603-436-8043.

— Andrew Clay

*Featured photo courtesy of Heidi Duncanson of the Seacoast Science Center.

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