The Nat invites La Jolla nature-lovers to join City challenge


Come outside, come outside, wherever you are!

On the last weekend in April, San Diego Natural History Museum (aka The Nat) is inviting San Diegans of all ages to join a worldwide City Nature Challenge, with some 60 cities participating.

It’s a competition to see which city can record the most observations of their local flora and fauna over a four-day period, and this is the first time San Diego is taking part.

City Nature Challenge: San Diego, which runs from 12 a.m. April 27 to 11:59 a.m. April 30, is asking local nature-lovers to submit pictures of plants, animals and fungi they observe in that time, using the free iNaturalist app.

“Southern California is one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots, and San Diego County is extremely diverse in flora and fauna,” said Lauren Marino Perez, The Nat’s Citizen Science Manager. “Our hope is that by hosting the City Nature Challenge, we can not only show the world that we are a leader in biodiversity, but also that we also have the most nature-loving and environmentally-conscious residents.”

Among the special events scheduled during the long weekend is a 24-hour Balboa Park Bio Blitz, from 2 p.m. Friday, April 27, to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

What, you may ask, is a BioBlitz?

It’s an effort to document as many species of wild plants and animals in a given area in a given time. Scientists and citizen scientists will come together to prowl through the park’s 1,200 acres in search of birds, mammals, spiders, insects, plants, reptiles, amphibians and fossils.

On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Nat will have tables set up inside and outside the museum to answer questions and help with the iNaturalist app. Participants will be able to interact with scientists, naturalists and environmental educators, and there will be a species count at 3 p.m. on the museum’s south steps.

Also included in the BioBlitz is a Florida Canyon Hike with the museum’s Canyoneers (Saturday, 8:30 a.m.) and a paleontologist-led Fossil Hike (Saturday, 1 p.m.).

If you’re not eager to join the crowds at Balboa Park, go to your own favorite spot — even your own backyard, as long as you don’t upload photos of pets and potted plants.

Or try one of these three events on Sunday, April 29:

Rose Creek BioBlitz, with the Friends of Rose Creek, Pacific Beach, 8 a.m.

Full Moon Hike, Black Mountain Open Space Park, Penasquitos, 7 p.m.

Grunion Run, with SDSU’S Natural History Club, La Jolla Shores, 10:15 p.m. Meet at north end of parking lot, near pier, (818) 397-6060.

How to join City Nature Challenge

All species reports will be tracked on iNaturalist, a platform that allows you to record what you see. It’s said to be ‘super user-friendly.’ All you have to do is:

1. Download the free app to your Android or iPhone;

2. Join the 2018 City Nature Challenge iNaturalist project;

3. Take photos of local wild plants and animals April 27-30;

4. Upload your photos to iNaturalist;

5. Learn more as the iNaturalist community helps identify your observation.

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