D-Day with a Difference


The long-awaited hour is nearly here. Tomorrow and Saturday, from noon to noon, thousands will storm Lake Michigan’s southeastern beaches for the 2009 National Geographic-National Park Service BioBlitz. Here, along the 15 miles of wind-swept strand and the rolling sandhills, meadows, forests, and marshes that comprise the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore—within site of the Chicago skyline across the water—they’ll fan out in field teams led by scientists expert in every sort of flora and fauna found in the park.


The goal, as with each BioBlitz: Tally as many species as possible of every sort—bugs, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mammals, microbes, fungi, plants. The “D” is for dunes, and it’s for (bio)diversity!


At the West Beach BioBlitz Base Camp, a team of scientists

and volunteers in the science tent will assess field team findings, help

identify obscure species, and enter the data into a database covering

everything that tweets, buzzes, chirps, and growls in the Indiana Dunes. Also

at Base Camp, throughout Friday afternoon and evening and all day Saturday,

there’ll be presentations and music on the main stage, a “Family Tent” with

hands-on activities, and bunches of scheduled nature walks.


Early Friday, two full trainloads of Chicago school kids and

teachers will make their way to the park. Those arriving first get a jump on

officially-sanctioned jump on the crowd, and will begin combing the park in the

morning, examining creatures in a multitude of habitats and looking into the

landward succession of plant and animal communities from beach to dune to bog

to forest.

More students, scout packs, and hundreds of public field team volunteers are set to arrive for opening ceremonies just before noon, when the ‘Blitz gets formally underway. Throughout the afternoon and evening, into and all through the night, past dawn and throughout Saturday morning, teams will find and identify park wildlife wherever they find it.

Once the whistle blows on species inventories at noon Saturday, there’ll be a final species tally and an afternoon-long Celebrate Biodiversity Festival.

Blog Wild is here, blogging the ‘Blitz from start to finish!

If you’re close enough to get to the Indiana Dunes, there’s lots to see and do,

plus openings left on many of the field teams. You don’t want to miss

it—so pull on your boots and come on out. And if you DO make it out, stop

by the science tent at West Beach and say “Hi!” (Hot coffee always welcome.)

Photographs by Ford Cochran