To the Editor:
I would like to thank the community of Warwick for hosting the 15th annual Rhode Island BioBlitz at Rocky Point on June 13 and 14. One of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey’s flagship programs, the BioBlitz gathered almost 200 volunteers from around Rhode Island, and around the Northeast, to find and identify as many kinds of animals and plants as possible in 24 hours. As naturalists arrived (in the rain, unfortunately) we were nonetheless warmly welcomed by Warwick citizens from the Buckeye Brook Coalition, Rocky Point Foundation, City Hall and the Warwick Neck neighborhood. Local businesses provided many things we needed, including printing from CopyWorld, bottled water from Sam’s Club and even clam cakes from Iggy’s. Everyone was interested to see what kinds of wild animals and plants would be attracted to this area of shoreline that had once been so vibrant an attraction for people but has been “empty” for 20 years.
The rain didn’t last, and by 3 p.m. Saturday we had found approximately 1,007 species of life that were making Rocky Point their home. The finds included a particularly large number of moth species, a couple of uncommon reptiles, and many coastal marine fish. Just for vascular plants there were over 280 species! It will take months for all the volunteer scientists to finish looking at their finds and send in the exact numbers. Already several have contacted me to say they’ve identified additional species in their samples.
From Mayor Avedisian right on down the line, the city was open to the idea of a biodiversity study at Rocky Point and very helpful in planning the project. I expect that when the analysis is done we will be able to offer some concrete advice, from the biodiversity standpoint about future management of Rocky Point. We will announce a public presentation of the results in the fall – stay tuned. And thank you again to the Warwick community for its hospitality.
David W. Gregg, Ph.D.
Rhode Island Natural History Survey