Bay plants and crea­tures sur­veyed

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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