Oklahomans can still enjoy nature and stay connected to fellow outdoor adventurers by sharing their plant and wildlife encounters while practicing social distancing. The Virtual Spring BioBlitz!, hosted by the Oklahoma Biological Survey, captures nature sightings throughout the month of April and highlights our state's incredible natural diversity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. We are stuck at home unable to go to school, work, or even the playground. But one thing we can do is go outside and enjoy the natural beauty around us,” said Priscilla Crawford, BioBlitz! OK Coordinator. “You can make observations in your backyard, on your neighborhood walks, or while you are waiting for your grocery pick-up. We are going to make this year extra fun – full of challenges and prizes!”
To participate in the virtual BioBlitz!, set up a free iNaturalist account and join the Virtual Spring BioBlitz! Oklahoma 2020 project. Observations made within Oklahoma's borders between April 1 and April 30 can be added to the project. The steps needed to make an observation with your iPhone or Android or via the web are explained in an easy-to-follow iNaturalist guide. Photos or sound clips can be uploaded to observations along with basic information about the date and location (which can be obscured from the public for privacy) of the sighting. Observations of unknown organisms can also be shared and the iNaturalist community can suggest identifications.
Participation in the Virtual Spring BioBlitz! project is free and prizes will be awarded to the top observers. Challenges will be posted throughout the month with opportunities to win additional prizes and compete with fellow outdoor enthusiasts statewide.
This will be the fifth Virtual Spring BioBlitz! hosted by the Oklahoma Biological Survey. During last year’s month-long event 12,714 observations of 2,016 plant and animal species were made by 719 outdoor enthusiasts and citizen scientists. Get more information about the event and learn about upcoming challenges by following @BioBlitzOklahoma on Facebook.
The Wildlife Department has and will continue to work daily with health officials to craft messaging that promotes responsible outdoor recreation. Along with health officials, we believe safeguarding mental health is important and spending time outdoors is a great way to do that while following the guidelines set by the Oklahoma Health Department.