Bras d’Or Watch takes on new forms this summer

SYDNEY: The popular citizen science program, Bras d’Or Watch, will continue to encourage community to explore the Bras d’Or this summer although it will look a little different for pandemic appropriate practices.

The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association (BLBRA) has hosted Bras d’Or Watch field day since 2015. The public engagement program will happen until July 19 through two community outreach programs for participants to enjoy: a bioblitz and a photo contest.

The purpose of Bras d’Or Watch has always been to connect people with the biological community in the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere. When people meet the fish and invertebrates, or learn about tree species and traditional medicines, they feel a deeper connection with the ecosystem.

That deeper connection then informs people’s decisions when it comes to actions that may affect the environment. Bras d’Or Watch is all about. “Developing the tools to allow us to see and hear what Mother Earth is showing and telling us,” says Annamarie Hatcher, the inaugural chair of the Bras d’Or Watch committee.

In order to continue their excellent community engagement track record, Bras d’Or Watch partners, BLBRA and ACAP Cape Breton, will be hosting a bioblitz and photo contest – both open to everyone – to challenge folks to get out and explore the Bras d’Or this week.

“A bioblitz is a great way to collect a snapshot of organisms present within the watershed during a specific time,” says project manager, Jen Cooper. “It also gets folks out into the biosphere interacting with the gorgeous ecosystem that we are so lucky to share – which is what Bras d’Or Watch is all about!” Participants can share their plant, fungi, and animal photos on the user-friendly online data base inaturalist.ca.

“We chose this user-friendly platform,” explains Cooper, “because the data can be easily accessed, is shared with global data repositories, and biologists from all over the world can confirm the species in the photos ensuring research grade identifications.”

The Bras d’Or Watch photo contest is open to anyone interested to submit photographs of anything in the biosphere among wildlife, people, activities and sustainable businesses. Photos must be posted to the Bras d’Or Watch Facebook page by end of day July 19. Be sure to include a name, and the description, location or area where the photo was taken.

For information on any of these Bras d’Or Watch initiatives and to follow along, visit the Facebook pages: “Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association,” “Bras d’Or Watch,” and “ACAP Cape Breton” or call ACAP at (902) 567-1628.