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Pooler Magazine

Nature Challenge Comes to the Area Once Again

Apr 01, 2024 08:48AM ● By Jan Southern
Spring is here and it’s time to take advantage of all coastal Georgia has to offer.

Now is a perfect time for you and your family to explore and learn more about the animals and plants living here through your smartphone. There are numerous apps that help people identify what species of flower, mushroom, or bird is right in front of them. This April one scientist is asking for your help to document as many as you can find. 

From April 26th through 29th, the entire coastline of Georgia will participate in an international competition called the City Nature Challenge. This unique event has over 400 cities with around 52,000 people racing to use their phones and cameras to log what organisms they can find. Mr. Cassell, a teacher at the Effingham College & Career Academy, is having his students participate for their Zoology class. “This is the third year that the Lowcountry area is participating and hopefully we break the previous year’s record. We had exactly 500 unique species cataloged from Okatie to St. Marys” he says. Bioblitz events, like the City Nature Challenge, allow professional scientists to see when flowers are blooming, birds are migrating, or helping to identify new species to an area. And since people get to go outside and enjoy some sunshine it’s a win-win. 

You do not need to be a professional biologist to document what you find, you just need to use the iNaturalist app on your phone. Making an account is free and the machine can even suggest what species you might be photographing. 

Mr. Cassell suggests for those who want to do this with younger children they can try a similar app called Seek. It is free and doesn’t use cookies or save personal information. 

The only rules for the City nature Challenge are that photos be plants or animals that are not domesticated, and of course, safety should be prioritized. Do not pick up anything you do not know what it is, also so you do not get bit or stung. And avoid wandering off the beaten path or trespassing. What will be the most observed animal in your county? Only you can help answer that! 

You can find out more on Instagram using hashtag #CityNatureChallenge. 

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