Author: Kevin McIlwee
Blitz is a name that has featured 3 times in my life (excluding Santa's Reindeer Blitzen of course). As a youngster in the early 50's, I played on one of Birmingham’s Blitzkrieg bomb sites. There I witnessed first hand the destruction of war, although at the time I was too young to appreciate the power we had harnessed, capable of eliminating not just each other but 99% of all the other species as well.
In the '70s, Sweets Ball Room Blitz was always a floor filler. I happily cavorted in the smoky discotheque blissfully unaware of pollution. In Britain, there were massive improvements in the quality of life. Harold Wilson said at the time; we had never had it so good. Travel became affordable. An Apollo spacecraft twinkled overhead beaming down pictures from space featuring our fantastic planet with its swathes of colour and vast ocean areas. Only the Great Wall of China gave any indication of our presence until the craft entered night time. Vast swathes of light revealed the spider's web of population, spun across the planet. We had no idea from any of those images how much industrialization was disturbing the balance of climate. Colour television documentaries began to appear, and the cinema brought us stories like Elsa the Lioness. Playing on our emotions, the film triggered concern for the rapidly disappearing creatures that we saw caged up in the numerous UK zoos.
In the last 10 years, the Conservation buzz word is Bio-blitz and collecting species records quickly is a great fun event. This year the Biodiversity centre is focusing on Marine records, and we want to update the inter-tidal zone list.
Jersey Marine Conservation launched the Butterfield Marine Watch Bioblitz on World Wetlands Day. From May, we will be inviting schools to complete our timed surveys. We have specially designed the programme to allow pupils to explore different habitats under their teacher's supervision. The 60-minute route will be carefully laid out to include a series of locations and challenges. We have 3 sites so far at La Rocque, Le Hocq and Queen Elizabeth causeway.
Rockpool exploration can 'blitz' a site if not carefully managed, and one of our aims is to minimize disturbance to boulders. 'It's in the sand' and 'In waders', are clues to the tasks which will incorporate key curriculum topics.
The Butterfield mobile unit will feature identification charts and function as species HQ. We are really excited about this project. If you have connections with any schools, please suggest they contact me, so we can set up an event for them. You can do your own Butterfield Bioblitz if you want and we have some special certificates for any youngster submitting one of our reports. Currently, we are putting together some supporting videos.