Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
- Just What Exactly is a BioBlitz?
Great question! A BioBlitz is a 24-hour biological survey of a defined area – in this case, Point Defiance Park. We will be counting every living thing we can find in the park. We accomplish this by dividing participants into small groups of 4-10 people. Each group will have an expert naturalist, and will be looking for a specific type of life – for example one group may be looking for insects, while another is looking for mammals, and yet another is identifying trees and shrubs. We will document our findings through an app called iNaturalist, which is free and available for Android and iPhone users. This will allow us to collect all the data under one project, and display our results in real time. We will provide a brief training on using iNaturalist at the beginning of each survey session in the Science Central building. Please note that you do not have to be an expert, or have any experience prior to this event – we build groups of all skill levels so we can all learn from each other and build community.
- How Do I Register?
ALL VOLUNTEER SHIFTS ARE FULL. This is a pre-registration only event.
- Can Families/Children participate?
Absolutely. We recommend the event for families with children 8 years of age and up. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times during the event, unless they are participating as students from the Science & Math Institute.
- Where Is The Event?
This event will cover the entirety of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington, but all activity begins and ends at “Science Central.” For this event, Science Central will be in the Environmental Learning Center, located near the entrance to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. This is where you will sign-in, meet your teams, receive meals, and turn in data from field excursions. This building recently opened in October 2017, and represents an exciting partnership between the Tacoma School District and Metro Parks Tacoma.
- Do I Need To Arrive On Time?
Absolutely, 100%, the answer is yes! We are building a complex schedule involving multiple groups. Each member of these groups is essential to the success of the event! Please plan on arriving around 30 minutes early to find parking (which can be a challenge depending on the weather) and get to Science Central. In your registration packet we will provide a contact number in advance of the event.
- Where Do I Park?
As mentioned above, parking at the zoo can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if the weather is sunny and nice. It is a good idea, if your schedule can accommodate it, to arrive earlier in the day to “grab” a parking spot. The zoo opens to the public at 9:30 am, so parking begins to fill at that point. Carpooling can also help, if that is an option for you.
- What If I’m Hungry?
We are providing snacks and meals! Coffee, beverages, water, and snacks will be available in Science Central throughout the BioBlitz. Bring water bottles for the field as you will be out for significant amounts of time. Meals will be provided for participants who have preregistered and have a shift near mealtime. We will provide more details in the registration packet.
- Where Are The Bathrooms?
Bathrooms are located in and near Science Central, and available sporadically throughout the park (generally near large picnic structures). Showers are not available.
- Where Can I Sleep?
Limited camping space is available in Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Friday night. There will also be floor space available in Science Central, but the floor is very hard so please bring a good sleeping pad or cot if you intend to do this! Either way, space is limited, so contact Craig Standridge at email@example.com to reserve an overnight spot. Camping is not allowed in Point Defiance Park.
- What Should I Wear?
Although Point Defiance Park has an extensive and well-maintained trail system, there are numerous unofficial trails that are not groomed, and some groups may wish to go off-trail in search of biodiversity. The best advice is to prepare for wet/damp conditions, dress in layers, wear sturdy waterproof shoes, and monitor the weather forecast.
- What If It Rains?
Fieldwork and fun times will occur regardless of weather, with the exception of lightning. Be prepared for heat, cold, and rain – check the weather forecast!
- How Will I Get To Survey Sites?
Point Defiance Park is large, at 760 acres, so groups surveying many of the zones may wish to drive to get a little closer. Please carpool with your team to minimize congestion and increase the chances of locating parking near your zone. There are numerous small parking lots along the Five Mile Drive, but space is limited, so be prepared to walk a bit to reach your site if necessary. On Saturdays the main portion of Five Mile Drive is generally closed to all vehicle traffic, and we will be providing shuttle service as needed – more details will be available closer to the event.
All participants must sign the Metro Parks waiver (completed during check in at Science Central). Participants must sign this to indemnify and hold harmless the sponsors, organizers, employees, other volunteers, and other involved parties.
- What Else Should I Bring?
Any personal equipment you feel would be helpful, such as binoculars, camera, field guide, hand lenses, etc. Flashlights or headlamps are strongly recommended for evening work, and sunscreen is recommended, even if it is cloudy. If you have a smartphone or tablet please bring it – we will be collecting data electronically through the iNaturalist app.
The Fun Factor
BioBlitzes are designed to be fun-filled events that accomplish an important task – gaining an overall “picture” of the biodiversity of an area. You are the most important part of this process, so please bring your enthusiasm and expect to have a great time working with great people in a great place! THANK YOU!!!