Dave Clements is the author of a Green Beat column. (Langley Advance Times files)

Dave Clements is the author of a Green Beat column. (Langley Advance Times files)

GREEN BEAT: Joining Langley’s first-ever virtual bioblitz this June

Thanks to an app, this two-week venture is no longer just for the nature nerds out there

By David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times

Something is happening right here in Langley this June that could be revolutionary in terms of how we humans treat the planet.

That’s very nice you might think, somebody somewhere must be doing something good for the environment.

No! Don’t think like that, because that someone could be you. Should be you!

You tend to only care about what you know.

That’s why groups, like the Langely Field Naturalists, have as a motto: “to know nature and keep it worth knowing.”

Enter our time and place when we tend to know more about the latest series on Netflix than about the birds singing in our backyard.

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The take-home lesson is, instead of shutting the window so you can hear your favourite show better, go out and take a picture of that noisy bird.

There is a drama unfolding all around us, as wildflowers blossom, busy bees pollinate them, caterpillars feed on their foliage, mother bird grabs a caterpillar or two for her young, and her young fertilize the ground under the tree to feed the flowers.

Normally a bioblitz involves a group of naturalist nerds who all go out for 24-hours or so and try to identify every living thing.

The first bioblitz occurred in 1996 at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C., where a group identified about 1,000 species of plants, animals, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi in a single day.

The idea caught fire and now bioblitzes occur all over the world – except suddenly, groups can’t come together to work in the era of COVID-19 precautions.

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Enter iNaturalist.

This is an app that can work on your smartphone, or be accessed via a computer.

You don’t have to be a nature nerd to operate iNaturalist – when you submit your photos of plants, deer, bugs, or fungi, suggestions pop up and experts around the world help verify what you have seen.

The idea behind iNaturalist is to enable many more average people (not just nature nerds) to become citizen scientists.

If you happen to photograph a really unusual plant or animal for the area, your observation could alert the experts to your exciting find.

The first-ever Langley Watershed Bioblitz kicks off Monday, June 1, and goes for two weeks, wrapping up Sunday, June 14.

Get started with iNaturalist, and join the Langley Watershed Bioblitz, a project listed under the “Community” tab.

Then get out there blitzing and taking photos of our fabulous flora and fauna!

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– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University

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