Wembury Bioblitz - over 800 species found!

Wembury bioblitz

Midday Friday 21st August to midday Saturday 22nd August 2009

Last weekend was Wembury Bioblitz - a 24 hour survey of every living thing we could find in Wembury Bay near Plymouth, Devon.  In 24 hours we found over 800 different species of plant and animal, including some pretty unusual ones such as the Ladies’ Tresses Orchid (Spiranthes spiralis), a fish called a Giant Goby (Gobius cobitus) which is quite rare on UK shores and is only found in south-west England between Wembury and the Isles of Scilly, and a species of moth (Epermenia insecurella) which had never been seen in Devon before! 

We also saw several Portuguese Man of War (Physalia physalis) - the blue bubble type thing in the photo below.  Although it looks like a jellyfish, a Portuguese Man of War is actually a siphonophore which is a colony of many tiny animals. The ‘bubble’ floats on the surface of the sea, whilst long tentacles (around 10m long) dangle in the water below and can give you a really painful sting!

The Bioblitz was really good fun, with nearly 100 scientists and over 1000 members of the public all working together searching in the rockpools, on the beach and along the cliff tops to find as much as they could whilst racing against the clock.  There were loads of different activities including rockpooling, looking at microscopic organisms in the sand through a microscope, investigating what was washed up on the strandline, face painting and shark egg-case hunting, as well as the night time activities of trapping small mammals and moths, and midnight rockpooling! 

We also launched a brand new nation-wide survey called The Big Seaweed Search.  Absolutely anyone can take part, so if you want to have a go and help out the museum scientists with their research, either reply to this post or look at www.nhm.ac.uk/seaweeds to get hold of a free identification guide and survey chart. 

Thank you to everyone who came along to help out or take part - we hope you had fun!  Here are a few photos of the Bioblitz to give you a taste of what we got up to, and some of the interesting things we found...