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Vashon BioBlitz: Science comes to life on the south end
Volunteers spent an entire day two weeks ago taking stock of Vashon’s rich plant and animal diversity at the Island’s first-ever BioBlitz.
During the BioBlitz — an event held at parks and natural areas all over the world — both experienced naturalists and curious members of the public worked to count as many plant and animal species as they could from 3 p.m. June 2 to 3 p.m. June 3 at the Neill Point Natural Area.
Ecologist Bianca Perla, who helped organize the event, said volunteers are still poring over photos from the event in an effort to identify the hundreds of species observed at the 50-acre south-end preserve. Perla recently founded the Vashon Nature Center, citing a goal to better document the Island’s biodiversity.
“Just going through a place, focusing so much and looking for such detail, it gives you an appreciation for the life we’re hosting on the Island,” Perla said.
Volunteers counted birds by listening to their songs, observed shoreline creatures at low tide, live-trapped mammals and even waded into small ponds to search for reptiles and insects.
They didn’t spot some of the species they expected to, Perla said, but there were plenty of interesting creatures to be found at the site, including a seal and sea lion near the beach, a predaceous diving beetle eating salamander larvae in a pond and Henderson’s sedge, a plant that surprised the botanists.
Children especially had fun at the event, Perla said, spotting a few things adults missed. While small mammal traps captured only field mice, everyone was thrilled when a young boy discovered a vagrant shrew.
Perla said volunteers will put on another BioBlitz next year, when they hope to offer even more opportunities for the public to get involved.
Perla noted that Neill Point was once the site of several homes, and she believes the same rich diversity can be found on properties all over the Island.
“It’s a pretty neat experience to realize how much life is out there,” she said.