PORTER, Ind. (May 18, 2009)—After 24 hours of exploration and documentation, the Indiana Dunes BioBlitz has provided a snapshot of the many species that call Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park home. Led by more than 150 scientists from around the country, thousands of amateur explorers, families and schoolchildren from Illinois, Indiana and Michigan conducted an inventory of the plants, bugs and other creatures that inhabit one of the nation’s most biologically diverse national parks. The event, from noon Friday, May 15, to noon Saturday, May 16, was presented by National Geographic and the National Park Service in collaboration with Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Chicago Wilderness.
- The species count now stands at 1,200. Over the next few months, organizers expect this number to increase significantly as state-of-the-art testing of the collected samples continues.
- BioBlitz participants identified several species of mollusks, fungi and beetles that had not previously been documented in the park.
- More than 5,000 people of all ages participated in the program during the 24 hours, including more than 2,000 registered school children from the tri-state area (Illinois, Indiana and Michigan) and more than 150 scientists.
- The Celebrate Biodiversity Festival that follo-The Celebrate Biodiversity Festival that followed the BioBlitz included several bands, talks, nature walks, live animal demonstrations and other activities. With the tagline “Every Species Counts — Especially You!”, the festival focused on sustainability and encouraging the public to do their part to protect the environment.
The BioBlitz was part scientific endeavor, part festival and part outdoor classroom. Participants combed the park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours. Activities included exploring the dunes, catching insects, searching for hidden wildflowers in woodlands, seining fish and other aquatic organisms, and observing and catching bats with nets at night.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for the public to meet the scientists and understand what makes Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a special place,” said Constantine Dillon, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent. “Despite the rain and thunderstorms, thousands of people came out to help us learn more about the park.”
“I was amazed by the energy everyone brought to this event,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president for research, conservation and exploration. “Like the biologists who thrive on surveying nature, the volunteers and students had an adventure they will never forget — and improved their knowledge of this special place.”
The Indiana Dunes BioBlitz is the third in a series of 10 annual BioBlitzes to be hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service leading up to the Park Service’s centennial in 2016. During closing ceremonies Saturday at West Beach, the BioBlitz flag was passed to the deputy superintendent of Florida’s Biscayne National Park, where the fourth BioBlitz will take place in spring 2010. Within sight of downtown Miami, yet worlds away, Biscayne protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands and fish-bejeweled coral reefs.
The Indiana Dunes BioBlitz was made possible through the support of foundations, nonprofit organizations and corporations. Foundation and nonprofit supporters include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation; Encyclopedia of Life; Friends of Indiana Dunes; and Science Chicago: Life’s A Lab. Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) was the leading corporate sponsor of the 2009 BioBlitz. Corporate support was also received from Olympus, Southwest Airlines, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Indiana American Water.
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