SANDY HOOK, NJ - On September 18th, 2015, the American Littoral Society, in partnership with the National Park Service, hosted the second Sandy Hook BioBlitz. Over 150 scientists, naturalists, and volunteers raced against the clock to identify as many species as possible during the 24-hour period. In addition to collecting important scientific data, the BioBlitz showed how important Sandy Hook is as a habitat for many living things.
Besides giving scientists a chance to measure biodiversity, it also gave park visitors of all ages the opportunity to take part in seining programs, tour a holly forest, and join a night sky watch. There were also many opportunities for the public to interact with the scientists and naturalists participating in the species count.
Among the highlights of the event were:
Dr. Richard Lathrop of Rutgers University, leader of the mammal team, used an app to identify bats during a nocturnal prowl. Five species of bats were identified including Eastern red, hoary, evening, little brown, and silver haired. He also set camera traps which captured a raccoon family in the holly forest.
The bird team was also very successful, identifying a total of 75 species. Fall migration is in full swing at Sandy Hook and many warblers were observed.
Jeff Dement, the Littoral Society's Fish Tagging Program Director, along with Thomas Grothues, led the fish team. Students from MAST and Rutgers University were eager to join in on the fun, and were not disappointed. Large juvenile black drum were caught in the 50-foot seine net as well as some rarities including crevalle jack, half beak, and mojarra.
Dr. Russel Burke's team from Hofstra University successfully doubled the reptile count from the last BioBlitz from one to two. A diamondback terrapin and a snapping turtle were observed. He noted that a spring BioBlitz might offer better conditions for a reptile and amphibian count.
Denise Gemmellaro of Rutgers University spent the evening hours in the dark dungeon like conditions of Mortar Battery. She returned with an array of critters such as cave crickets and centipedes. She brought the species back for identification and we are eagerly awaiting her final count.
The Littoral Society thanks the many scientists and volunteers that made this event possible. We are still awaiting a final count, but so far, 271 species have been identified. Our insect team leader, Denise Gemmellaro, brought back about 150 species to her lab to identify, and we are awaiting her results. We also expect 50 - 100 additions to our plant list, from Daniel Atha and his team at the New York Botanical Garden. Check back for updates.
Results so far:
Birds - 75
Fungi/Lichen - 12
Fish - 21
Reptiles/Amphibians - 2
Marine Invertebrates - 44
Insects - 2
Mammals - 13
Aquatic Plants - 15
Terrestrial Plants - 87