Having looked at the biodiversity of the participating islands and a review of the relative strengths of the survey teams, it looks like Island BioBlitz will involve ferocious competition between the teams. So, based on our knowledge of the form, the odds for two of the awards are as follows:
Most Species Award
At 2/1, Inis Mór is favourite to scoop the award for the most species recorded. The island has a very rich biological diversity, both on the land and sea, and the local organiser, Aran LIFE, has been very energetic in getting colleagues and friends to help with the surveying. The strong marine expertise gives this team the edge. Snapping at their heels is Cape Clear. This is also a very strong team, and the biodiversity of the island is already well documented, so this will work in their favour. Bere Island is the dark horse this year. The island has not been as well surveyed as other islands, but it has extensive areas of semi-natural habitat and it has assembled a survey team laden down with specialist skills. Don’t be surprised if Bere Island is there, or thereabouts, right to the end! Clare Island is a bit of an unknown. The island is already very well surveyed and is known to support a very rich biodiversity, but this might lull the team into complacency. Also, the Base Camp is right beside the wonderful facilities (ie the pub and its traditional music sessions) at the Go Explore Hostel, so the festivities might just get in the way of their recording activities. We’ll see! Tory Island has a difficult task, not for the want of surveying talent, but for the fact that the island is so much smaller than the others. But there is no doubt that Island BioBlitz will greatly increase knowledge of the biodiversity value of this wonderful island.
Species Richness Award
Tory Island is red hot favourites to take the Species Richness Award. This is the number of species recorded by area. Tory Island is the smallest of the participating islands but it is assumed that it is crammed full of specialised biodiversity that the team will document. Bere Island and Cape Clare are neck and neck behind Tory. Both survey teams look very strong but there is a suspicion that Bere Island holds a surprisingly rich biodiversity waiting to be discovered. Clare Island might suffer from the fact that a large part of the island is difficult terrain to survey and Inis Mór really has its work cut out to feature in this award by virtue of the fact that at 31 Km2, it is the largest of the five islands. But the competition might prove us wrong!