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Searching by the sea in Nahant

NAHANT — Getting people interested in the biodiversity within their communities isn’t an easy task, but the Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) has created an adventurous way of doing so.

OGL’s third annual BioBlitz this month in Nahant combined efforts by the Northeastern University Marine Science Center and Nahant S.W.I.M., Inc. (Safer Waters In Massachusetts) to attract more than 130 participants and 30 staff volunteers exploring six local beaches.

“A bioblitz is a scavenger hunt for biodiversity,” said Annie Evankow, the Marine Science Collections Associate for OGL. “This event is targeted towards the public and students at Northeastern University to come and find whatever they can on the beach and then identify it and if they can’t there are people there to help figure out what it is.”

Evankow applauded the 48 submitted datasheets from participants who acknowledged over 57 species from Nahant Beach, Canoe Beach, Short Beach, Joseph’s Beach, Doggie Beach, and Pumphouse Beach.

“The purpose of hosting the Bioblitz is to get people excited about the biodiversity that’s here in Massachusetts, specifically in Nahant, and help people appreciate what exists right here in the ocean,” she said. “Our mission is to preserve, describe, and archive the biodiversity of the world’s oceans.”

According to Evankow, even though this is OGL and Nahant S.W.I.M.’s third year hosting the biodiversity scavenger hunt, this was the first year they made contributions to a website called iNaturalist through a project called Nahant Coastal Biodiversity. The site offers year-round availability for anyone to upload photos of sea species found in their communities in hopes of identification.

Vi Patek, the president of Nahant S.W.I.M., also acknowledged the importance of keeping biodiversity fun and expressed what a delight it has been collaborating with OGL for the past three years on this celebration of exploration within the community.

“The bioblitz raises awareness, so people learn,” said Patek. “Our primary mission is to educate people about the environment.”

TJ Cullinane and his father have been working with Friends of Lynn & Nahant Beach, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the Lynn Shore and Nahant Beach reservations, for the last 10 years. The third annual Nahant Bioblitz was only the first time for the Cullinane family.

“It was a beautiful day with like-minded people watching families have a nice walk on the beach,” said Cullinane. “I wish I had been able to participate before, but we certainly will be continuing to do so as long as they’ll have us.”

For anyone interested, such as children, adults, or anyone intrigued by science or what’s in their communities, the Northeastern University Marine Science Center will be hosting its annual open house on Saturday Oct. 14.

“There are a lot of things happening here at the science center that aren’t open to the public, like research labs working on local seagrass and one lab creating robotic lobsters to help find minds underwater without using living people or animals,” said Evankow. “The point of the open house is to give people that normally wouldn’t have this opportunity to take tours and see all of this and talk to students, professors, and local organizations that are presenting about the history of Nahant and other related concepts.”

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