Looking for a great activity to do with your children in November this year? Then look no further than the T&T Backyard Bioblitz, which will be held on November 21-22.

A Bioblitz is an event where people survey plants and animals in a particular place over 24 hours, giving us a snapshot of the biodiversity that exists there. The T&T annual Bioblitz has been organised by the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club in collaboration with the Department of Life Sciences at The University of the West Indies since 2012. For the past eight years, Bioblitz has taken us to various locations throughout Trinidad and Tobago to find out what species exist in these areas. We’ve been to Tucker Valley in the West, Nariva Swamp in the East, all the way South in Icacos, to the Central Range in Tabaquite last year and even to Tobago. However, this year the Bioblitz action will be brought much closer to you—as Bioblitz 2020 will be held in your backyard.

This means any and every one can participate from the comfort and safety of their homes. As such, this will be a great fun and educational activity for you to participate in with your children. As we navigate through Covid-19 developments and follow all regulations and restrictions with respect to limiting public group numbers, there will be no physical basecamp—the usual centre of activities for the event. Instead, this year’s centrepoint of activities will be the Trinidad and Tobago Backyard Bioblitz project on the iNaturalist app.

To participate this year it’s very easy. Start with downloading the iNaturalist app, and joining the project “Trinidad and Tobago Backyard Bioblitz”. Then from noon on November 21 to noon on Sunday 22, simply go out in your gardens and backyards, armed with your phone or camera to take photos of any and all living organisms you come across. Typical things you may see are birds such as kiskadees and doves, lizards and butterflies, ants, flowers and grasses; hopefully you spot much more.

Then upload your observations to the iNaturalist app and add to the T&T Backyard Bioblitz project and that’s it—iNaturalist will do the rest. You can also upload from an actual camera via the iNaturalist webpage if you prefer. iNaturalist does a great job of offering possible suggestions of what the organism may be. Experts both locally and worldwide will be on standby to identify all observations uploaded to the project; there are even prizes for certain discoveries and totals uploaded. If any organisms are spotted inside your house during this year’s Bioblitz period, don’t forget to take a photo of these as well—every little creature counts! Just remember, take only photos—avoid touching organisms.

Spending more time at home over the last few months means many of us have noticed and appreciated nature in our own backyards more than usual. Bioblitz 2020 offers an amazing opportunity to discover more about that biodiversity. At the Port of Spain Bioblitz over 700 species were found in this urban environment in the capital city. Just imagine how many we can find in all backyards of Trinidad and Tobago! 800? 1000? More? Let’s see if you can come across a species that’s rare or unique.

Search for T&T Bioblitz and follow us on our Facebook and Instagram pages to get further updates and tips to help you participate. Help bring out your and your children’s inner scientist and photographer—most importantly join in the fun.

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