Hampton Roads City Nature Challenge, April 30 to May 3, 2021


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Do you and your family have cabin fever? Do you want to participate in community science efforts in Hampton Roads? Do you love The Mariners’ Park and other natural areas around our region? Well look no further– we have the event for you! 


Hampton Roads City Nature Challenge, April 30 to May 3, 2021

Bumblebee on purple lantana in the Park. Photo credit: Amanda Shields/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Between April 30 to May 3, 2021 there will be an international bioblitz called the City Nature Challenge. The seven cities of Hampton Roads is one of the registered project sites in this amazing global challenge. It doesn’t matter where you are in the seven cities, when you make an observation during the project days on iNaturalist, it will automatically go toward the Hampton Roads City Nature Challenge group. How easy is that! We encourage anyone and everyone in the seven-cities to safely participate during the challenge days. If you’re in Newport News, please come out to Mariners’ Park during the City Nature Challenge to help capture some cool species in the Park. 

The bioblitz starts at 12:00 AM on April 30 and ends at 11:59 PM on May 3. Remember– this is a challenge, so we want the community to get outside and document as many plants, animals, fungi, and other living species as you can. 

Common slider in Mariners’ Lake. Photo credit: Amanda Shields/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

2020 top city winners were: Cape Town, South Africa for the most observations (53,763) and species (4,588) and the San Francisco Bay area for the most participants (1,947). Let’s rally together 757, and try to beat those numbers! 

Visitors at Bridge Two, otherwise known as “Turtle Bridge” Photo credit: Crystal Heines/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.







Participation is easy! All you have to do is find wildlife (animals, plants, and so on), take a picture, and share it on the iNaturalist app. You don’t even have to leave your house– you can take pictures from your window!

Watch out for another blog on April 9 where I go into more detail about how to use iNaturalist during the City Nature Challenge. In the meantime, please visit this iNaturalist site to learn more about how to download and use the app right now. You will need to create an account before the event. 


Past participation and our new CNC partners! 

Families exploring macroinvertebrates at the 2019 Celebrate the Park and City Nature Challenge at Mariners’ Park. Photo credit: Brock Switzer/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

The Mariners’ Museum and Park previously participated in this exciting event in 2019 as part of our Celebrate the Park event. 2020 of course was a bust for most activities, but this year, though we won’t be having another spring Celebrate the Park event just yet, we will be encouraging folks to get outside to help us document species in the Park. 

This year The Mariners’ Museum and Park is excited to announce our partnership with other environmental institutions and agencies in the 757 area for a truly seven-cities-wide event. Partner organizations right now include Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Virginia Living Museum, the Virginia Zoo, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, Virginia State Parks, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and more. 

Please check out our Hampton Roads joint City Nature Challenge website for more information! 

What is a bioblitz anyway?

Teacher exploring macroinvertebrates. Photo credit: Crystal Heines/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

A bioblitz (or BioBlitz) is a period of intense surveying in efforts to identify as many living species in a specific area. In our case, over the four data collection days, we are focusing our efforts on the seven cities of Hampton Roads (i.e., Newport News, Hampton, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach).

Visit our Hampton Road’s group’s page to see exactly where the boundaries are for our project site.  


Goals for The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Young visitors examining a tree during the 2019 Master Naturalist Park Tree Tours Photo credit: Crystal Heines/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

For this year, as in the past, the main goals for The Mariners’ Museum and Park during the City Nature Challenge are to continue to ramp up efforts in identifying more species in our Park and getting more awareness of the Park itself as an equitable, welcoming, and accessible green space in Newport News. 

Parting words of safety… 

We love visitors! We want to make sure everyone is safe so please take the following precautions when visiting our Park or any other natural area. When visiting a new place, like Mariners’ Park, please read and abide by the rules of the Park. Make sure to take a map of the area with you (paper or digital) Additionally, please practice social distancing and the principles of leave-no-trace when you are visiting Mariners’ Park and other natural areas. Take only pictures and leave only footprints! 


2 thoughts on “Hampton Roads City Nature Challenge, April 30 to May 3, 2021”

    1. Hi Arlene,

      Thanks for your great question. You are not alone! In the next post (going live on Friday April 9) I go into the details of using the app iNaturalist, the citizen science app we use during the City Nature Challenge, and something I use all year round!

      Download the free iNaturalist app on your computer or mobile device, create an account, and start observing. When you take a picture, the app will prompt you through and help you with identification. (Here is the site: http://inaturalist.org/)

      Sometimes the app isn’t always right, but people in the community will comment on your observation if they think it’s right or not. Another way to ID something, beyond a phone application, is to break out a guidebook, use a dichotomous key, and/or you can even ask someone who might know– if they don’t know, they may be able to at least guide you to another resource.

      If you have an image of your mystery wildlife, you may find help through a reverse image search on Google (see source here: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/1325808?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en&oco=0).

      Hope that helps!