Sandy Hook BioBlitz welcomes citizen scientists

Staff Writer

SANDY HOOK – Hardcore scientists and armchair biologists alike will flock to Sandy Hook at the Gateway National Recreation Area for the second “BioBlitz” to identify and learn about scores of wildlife species in the coastal habitat.

For a full 24 hours, starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, the National Park Service (NPS) and American Littoral Society (ALS) will welcome scientists, naturalists, families and residents to travel the nooks and crannies of Sandy Hook, searching for and studying the wildlife that spans the seven-mile peninsula that serves as home to the historic Fort Hancock.

“The BioBlitz gives us a snapshot of the biodiversity in a particular area at a particular time,” John Warren, external affairs officer for Sandy Hook, said in an interview.

“We’ll try to find as many species as possible – not just the cute ones, but also invertebrates, fungi – and identify everything the contributes to making [Sandy Hook] the habitat that it is.”

BioBlitz doesn’t just happen at Sandy Hook; it is a worldwide event for people to connect with their local natural habitats and living organisms.

According to Warren, this is the second BioBlitz that has been held at Sandy Hook and the first since superstorm Sandy inundated the peninsula in 2012. In 2011, more than 150 scientists and volunteers located 433 species on Sandy Hook.

“This is the first BioBlitz after [superstorm] Sandy, so we’ll get to see what it’s like after a major event covered the peninsula in water,” Warren said. “It also shows the possible changes occurring due to climate change, and we’re in a vulnerable area.

“Any rise in the water level can make a lot of changes on land and at sea.”

For the American Littoral Society, which is co-sponsoring the event, the BioBlitz represents an opportunity to bring people out of their homes and into the natural world, reconnecting them with resources that can seem scarce in a highly developed area.

“The BioBlitz connects people with Sandy Hook,” Tim Dillingham, executive director of ALS. “The scientists and amateurs who help blitz the survey develop important information about the wildlife here, and provide a scientific basis to track changes over time – information needed to protect the Hook’s role as an environmental oasis in an urban region.

“We can watch for changes due to hurricane Sandy and the overall effects of climate change [with that data.]”

Experienced scientists and naturalists will lead teams of volunteers in identifying and cataloguing species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, plants, invertebrates and fungi.

The littoral society will also host free, family-oriented educational activities, including the exploration of coves and trails throughout Sandy Hook.

The event begins at 3 p.m. on that Friday, Sept. 18, at the Fort Hancock Historic Post parade grounds and concludes 24 hours later at the same place. Limited overnight accommodations and camping will be available to volunteers working multiple shifts. Those wishing to sign up may do so online at