BioBlitz offers chance to ‘count every living thing’ on Vashon

This 24-hour biodiversity survey has been run by the Nature Center at different island locations since 2012. This year, it will be focused on the town and surrounding areas, including Fisher Pond.

Vashon Nature Center will celebrate its 10th-anniversary Bioblitz this year on July 9 and 10.

This 24-hour biodiversity survey has been run by the Nature Center at different island locations since 2012. This year, it will be focused on the town and surrounding areas, including Fisher Pond. The goal of this event: count every living thing.

The idea of a Bioblitz, a period of intense biological sampling not unlike a marathon for naturalists, began in 1996 as a National Park community science project at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. The idea was born to bring together professional scientists and the public to survey as many species as possible in a short period of time.

This concept has bloomed and Bioblitzes happen all around the world today.

The Nature Center’s effort began at Neill Point, and now represents a long-term biodiversity data set of seasonal snapshots from all around Vashon-Maury. Their last Bioblitz was in 2018, bringing the number of species recorded to 1092, with documentation of nearly 8000 individuals representing plankton, trees, birds, and everything in between. All the findings are added to the Vashon Biodiversity Project on iNaturalist, a website and app focused on community science inventorying.

Kathryn True, naturalist and science communication advisor to the Nature Center, now recalls how she and her daughter counted the very first species of that 2012 Bioblitz.

“My daughter and I arrived at Neill Point, unloaded the car and took a look around the maple-ringed clearing,” True said. “The sun broke through for the first time all week and a Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) fluttered towards us, then stopped on a blackberry leaf to flex her wings. We had our species #1!”

Bianca Perla, director of Vashon Nature Center, said that she and Nature Center staff and volunteers were excited to once again take part in the Bioblitz after a break due to the pandemic.

“The data we collect with our teams will contribute to an international effort in creating a biodiversity atlas of the Salish sea,” she said. “After this Bioblitz wraps up we’ll have a lot of findings to pore over. ”

Previous years have revealed much about the biodiversity of Vashon-Maury, both hidden and in plain sight — including a new record of fungi for the state, documentation of endangered marbled murrelets using Maury Island State Aquatic reserve waters, and various first recorded insect species for Vashon. Additional information about these findings, and more, can be found on the Vashon Nature Center blog, at, and searching for Bioblitz.

A Bioblitz does not happen without an engaged community, willing biological experts, and the support of partners. Nature Center staff, volunteers, and partners may run the event, but the goal is to draw the Vashon-Maury community into joining biological surveys that happen during the 24 hours between 1 p.m. Saturday, July 9, and 1 p.m. Sunday, July 10.

Central themes of all Bioblitzes are the celebration of biodiversity and encouraging respect and pride in local ecosystems. They are community events, by and for the people.

“We’re lucky to have partners who can help host an event of this scale,” said Perla, who expressed gratitude to Vashon Heritage Museum, Vashon-Maury Land Trust, Vashon Park District, Vashon Audubon, as well as community volunteers and participants, for their participation in the event.

“Bioblitz events also highlight the talent of many local and regional naturalists and we are grateful to all of them for being such inspirational and knowledgeable team leaders,” she said. “Everyone needs to meet these folks, they are gems.”

The Vashon Heritage Museum will be the site of the 2022 Bioblitz basecamp — a place for groups to gather before surveys and for curious folks of all ages to drop in on various activities. One of the current exhibits at the Heritage Museum, “Natural Wonder” was created in partnership with the Vashon Nature Center to inspire wonder for our local environment and is recommended to anyone making a visit to the basecamp.

The Whole Vashon Project will also be present to help participants create costumes for an “All Species March” for the Strawberry Festival Parade.

All are welcome to attend the Bioblitz. One of Vashon Nature Center’s key mantras, and a community science program that dovetails with Bioblitz, is “Everyone Counts – all people and all species.”

All islanders are encouraged to sign up for a survey or drop by basecamp no matter their level of experience. The event is also free, thanks in part to the support of individual contributions and an Alan Painter Grant from the King County Services Area Grant.

How to Bioblitz:

The 2022 BioBlitz will take place from 1 p.m. Saturday, July 9, to 1 p.m. Sunday, July 10, within map boundaries detailed at

Islanders on properties within the Bioblitz boundaries can download the iNaturalist app and survey their properties. All uploads into iNaturalist during the Bioblitz will be included in the count.

Sign up at to join a survey to help team leaders find species.

Visit Vashon Heritage Museum’s family-friendly base camp for Bioblitz and tour the Natural Wonder exhibit.

A free public walk around Fisher Pond will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 9, with information stations placed along the trail.

Visit to find out more.

Brendan McGarry is the outreach coordinator for the Vashon Nature Center.