Gwaii Haanas to host first BioBlitz on Sunday

It’s like walking a beach or forest with your most plant-wise, wildlife-witted friend.

This Sunday, Gwaii Haanas will host its first-ever BioBlitz — a full day of guided walks and talks along the beach at Ḵay Llnagaay and in the forest around Spirit Lake Trail.

Along the way, everyone is invited to snap photos and use a free app called iNaturalist to later record what plants and animals they see blooming, buzzing, or beachcombing.

“It’s a neat citizen-science way of tracking what’s occurring where,” says Miranda Post, spokesperson for Gwaii Haanas, adding that she herself will be on the lookout for skunk cabbage and the first blooms of salal and thimble berries.

Starting at 9 a.m. with beach talks by Dolly Garza, Jenny Cross, Maggie Stronge, Lynn Lee, and Pat Fairweather, everyone will stop for a free noon-time “lunch blitz” at the Haida Heritage Centre before heading to the forest along Spirit Lake Trail with guides Linda Tollas, Stu Crawford, Sean Young, Kiku Dhanwant, and Aline Lachapelle.

Topics range from edible seaweed and Haida-language words for intertidal life to forest bugs, slugs, fungi, and traditional use of plants.

“For me, the intersect of science and culture is the really exciting part,” said Post. Guides include local biologists, fisheries technicians, Haida-language speakers, and cultural custodians.

“We really strove to have a balanced group of experts from both worlds.”

For a full activity list, visit the Gwaii Haanas BioBlitz! Facebook page.

At the same time families join the Gwaii Haanas event tomorrow, others will be joining similar BioBlitzes across the country, from the Kluane Lake Research Station in the Yukon to Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto.

With so many people paying close attention, a few may find new species or some in unexpected places — over the last two years, people at BioBlitz events in Canada’s national parks have discovered a new type of mushroom, eight types of bat, and 33 surprising species of plants.

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