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Porirua prepares to bioblitz flora and fauna

Jan 28th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

MANA ISLAND: One of the focal points of the bioblitz. Photo: Jennifer Gilchrist

VOLUNTEERS have jumped at the chance to help in the Mana Land and Sea Bioblitz next month.

The bioblitz is a scientific survey to find as many different plants and animals within a specific timeframe and specific area.

It will be launched on February 5 at Titahi Bay Surf Club, and the headquarters will be the nearby Cable House.

Forest and Bird project coordinator Allie Burnett, pictured, has been delighted with the interest from volunteers whose roles will include science support, data entry, divers, photo management, educational guiding and assisting visitors.

“There has been a fantastic response from dive shops, the local community as well as Victoria University students” she said.

“University students have been keen and are able to use the experiences they have learnt from the course they are doing.”

Biologist turned filmmaker Alison Ballance will report on biodiversity at the launch.

“2010 was the year of biodiversity and we want to bring that into the bioblitz,” says Ms Burnett.

The Mana Land and Sea Bioblitz follows on from the successful 2007 Wellington Marine Bioblitz where new species were found.

A bioblitz is normally held over a 24 hour period, however, when surveying species in the sea around New Zealand more time is allocated to allow for inclement weather.

Scientists and the local community will work throughout the month to see how many species can be found and identified on and around Mana Island, Whitireia Park and Titahi Bay.

“Although Mana Island has been investigated in the past, the marine area around the island has not been explored and scientists are excited about being given that opportunity,” says Ms Burnett.

Scientists, botanists and etymologists will collaborate to ensure the same area is not surveyed twice.

The base camp laboratory will be at the Cable House, in Bay Road Titahi Bay, where scientists and other experts will be available 10am to 4pm each weekend to identify species.

Any new discoveries will be identified by specialists before being added to the bioblitz database.

The bioblitz has been coordinated by Forest and Bird and supported by the Department of Conservation (DOC), National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Porirua City Council, Te Papa and Victoria University, with scientists volunteering their own time during the weekend to work on the survey.

During the week the bioblitz is an opportunity for schools to be involved in special UNESCO funded classes to find out more about science and nature.

A second laboratory for the camp will be located on Mana Island for scientists to work.

“Boat trips are proving a little challenging at the moment to allow public access to Mana Island with the weather having the final say” said Ms Burnett.

Information on special boat trips to Mana Island will be available on www.bioblitz.org.nz

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