BioBlitz Data Provides a Snapshot of Changes in Odiorne Point State Park

Posted on August 10, 2023

Katie Brodeur | Community Program Naturalist, Seacoast Science Center

Each year, Seacoast Science Center (SSC) brings scientists and community members together to conduct a dawn-to-dusk biological survey of Odiorne Point State Park. This year’s BioBlitz event, held Saturday, September 23rd, will mark its 21st anniversary! Like an extreme nature scavenger hunt, BioBlitz is a fun event for all ages and a great way for kids, families, and nature enthusiasts to hone their field skills alongside scientists and expert naturalists. 

Over 2,500 species have been documented in the past two decades, representing plants, animals, fungi, insects and more. This biodiversity catalogue grows each year with the addition of species either previously not identified on the day of the event and species that have newly arrived to the Seacoast. For example, 2022 marked the first sighting of a harbor porpoise on the day of BioBlitz, despite this elusive species being endemic and common in our area. 

A false barklice species (Heterocaecilius n.sp) first seen in NH at the 2021 BioBlitz, only recorded once previously in the U.S. (by Diane Young)

Twenty years of snapshots on a single day in September has coalesced into a fascinating picture of the changing biodiversity of the Park. In recent years, new species have been documented from across the world, including the European Rock Shrimp (Palaemons elegans) in 2020 and several European and Asian insect species seen for the first time in New Hampshire in 2021. One of these was a small species of false barklice (Heterocaecilius n.sp.) that had only been recorded once in the United States!

Of the many habitats found within Odiorne Point State Park, the composition of our rocky shore zones has been most dramatically altered in recent decades, reflecting an increasingly connected and warming world ocean. Introduced and invasive species of seaweeds, crabs, sponges, molluscs, and more are regularly found during tide pooling programs at SSC. Other species that are traditionally found south of Cape Cod are moving northward in response to warming water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, including the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) of Maryland crab cake fame.

European Rock Shrimp (Palaemon elegans), an invasive species first seen in Odiorne Point State Park in 2020.

BioBlitz gives us an opportunity to track the rapid changes seen in both Odiorne Point State Park and along our coast in the Gulf of Maine. The flora and fauna of our region was influenced when European settlers arrived, and it continues to change in the modern age. The record of biodiversity generated from BioBlitz serves as an important indicator of environmental health and is one way for us to monitor our coastal environment and track its change over time.

In addition to tracking the biodiversity of Odiorne Point State Park, BioBlitz is a great, fun way for visitors and families to get involved in community science and a rare opportunity to explore nature alongside many passionate biologists at work in the field. Explorations of the many habitats found in the Park run throughout the day, including tide pool and salt marsh exploration. You can join SSC for all or part of the day to help add to its twenty years of data and help create a more thorough snapshot of the variety of species that live here.

To learn more and view the full BioBlitz exploration schedule, please visit the website. See you at Seacoast Science Center on September 23rd!

(Cover image by Kate Wilcox: Seacoast Science Center Naturalists and local experts learn more about the biodiversity of Odiorne Point State Park)  

Seacoast Science Center will be CLOSED today: Friday, April 5, 2024. Our utilities are currently down and need to get repaired before we are able to open for visitors. Thank you for your understanding. 

CLOSED today.

Seacoast Science Center is closed today due to inclement weather.