Florida BioBlitz takes off–Friday and Saturday!

To kick off the species inventory blitz, a rehabilitated red-shouldered hawk takes to the air.
To kick off the Biscayne BioBlitz, an animal rescue worker prepares to release a rehabilitated red-shouldered hawk.

Around noon today, a Florida wildlife rescue worker loosened his grip on a red-shouldered hawk that had been recuperating from a serious head injury over the past two months. As the surrounding crowd cheered, the bird took flight and soared through the skies over Biscayne National Park (see the video, below). This was the official start of an amazing citizen science event: BioBlitz 2010.

Following the send-off, hordes of volunteers set out through the park, trekking on land, wading into the water, and jumping off boats with their fins and snorkels. In a 24-hour blitz that ends Saturday at noon, they are working side-by-side with biologists and wildlife experts to inventory the area’s diverse plant and animal life.

Fish, invertebrates, mammals, microbes, fungi—you name it. If it’s growing, crawling, flying, or swimming in the park, these dedicated volunteers will find, assess, and record their observations about it.

If you’re nearby, there’s still time to drop in even if you haven’t preregistered: You can take part in nature walks, talks, and various entertaining events, and you may even be able to join an inventory team on the spur of the moment.

If you’re not within striking distance, the good news is that every year the National Geographic Society sponsors a BioBlitz at a different national park—so one may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Meantime, we can all follow the action in Florida, via blog dispatches, frontline photos and video, and the BioBlitz Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Here’s a glimpse of the take-off that marked the start of the blitzing earlier today. Truly “uplifting.”

Categories: Animals, Biology, Birds, Citizen Science, Ecology & Environment, Nature & Outdoors, Ocean & Water