Bay plants and creatures surveyed
Scientists will look to catalogue as many plants, animals and insects in the vicinity of Titahi Bay, Whitireia Park and Mana Island from this weekend, with the public encouraged to join in.
The ‘‘ bioblitz’’ is officially opened at the Titahi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club this Saturday, with the headquarters of the month-long survey to be based at the Cable House at the north end of the beach (next to where you can drive down onto the beach).
The house, owned by Porirua City Council, is tiny and run down, but bioblitz co-ordinator Allie Burnett said it will suit their purposes just fine.
‘‘ We’re going to have microscopes set up, people on computers logging data, there’s an area where talks will be held – it’s going to be a hive of activity.
‘‘ We’re very grateful to the council for lending us this space, free of charge.’’
The last bioblitz carried out in this region was in 2007, at Tuputeranga Marine Reserve on Wellington’s south coast. There, like here, as much plant, animal and sea life was documented in a cer- tain period of time. The information, once collected, will be stored in a database online for people to view, says Ms Burnett, from Forest & Bird. Other agencies taking part include Niwa, Victoria University, Te Papa and Department of Conservation, who will lend personnel to this project, while NZ Sea Adventures in Mana is also involved.
‘‘If you look at Mana Island, quite a lot of work has been done [researching animal life] on the island itself, but not in the marine area. There will be plenty of diving done, so there’s a lot of important information gathered on land and in the sea,’’ Ms Burnett said.
Public input is a big part of a bioblitz and she hopes the Porirua public enter into the spirit. Volunteers, including school groups, can forage the foreshore and search rockpools, help identify insects, hear talks from scientists and even go on guided night walks and boat trips.
Educational resources, funded by Unesco ( UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), are available, with schools also able to have participation as part of their science curriculum.
‘‘It’s lovely to have local people involved, being interested in the biodiversity around them, and even telling us about what they have seen. They found new species in 2007 [at Taputeranaga] and there’s no reason that can’t happen this time, you would be amazed at what’s on your doorstep.
‘‘As well as being a great chance for the scientists from the different fields to interact, I just love seeing kids introduced to science, it’s exciting to show that it’s not this stuffy, removed world.’’
Ms Burnett said public contributions to the survey are certainly welcome, although they ask that people either bring photo- graphs or a very small sample to the Cable House to be checked.
The bioblitz will run until March 6, over four weeks (to allow for fickle weather). For more information, especially a daily diary of events, go to the website bioblitz.org.nz.
The Cable House will be open at the weekend, from 10am-4pm.
Mana bioblitz: Allie Burnett from Forest & Bird, outside the Cable House that looks over Titahi Bay beach and towards Mana Island, has fingers crossed that they have weather like this for the coming month.