SnailBlitz 2017: Citizen Scientists Wanted

If you've spied a number of shell-backed critters in recent days, best send NHM a photo.

May flowers being successfully summoned by April showers is one of the most tried-and-truest of the old-timey sayings.

But where's that perfect phrase that summarizes how soggy February weather can invite bunches of sidewalk-crawly, garden-dwelling snails and slugs?

Some snappy writer needs to get to work on that saying, like, pronto. Because many Southern Californians have encountered a host of gastropods during all of these rainy January and February days of late.

Whether or not you call the shell-rocking wet-weather denizens of your yard "snails" or "gastropods" or some adorable pet name you invented, know this: The Natural History Museum wants to know about your snail- and slug-based sightings.

So we'll crawl no more, at a snail's pace, toward what this all means: SnailBlitz 2017! has begun. Your part, as a curious-about-the-world citizen scientist? Snap photos of your local snails and slugs and share them, either by emailing or uploading your pics at iNaturalist.

Tagging them on social media is cool, too. Just use the hashtag #SnailBlitz. "The goal is to reach 1,000 images by midnight on March 31!" says the Exposition Park science museum.

This isn't being done simply to cute-ify social media with snaps of wee slugs. Rather, the museum says that these photos help " accelarate our efforts to catalogue the biological diversity of terrestrial gastropods (land snails and slugs) around Southern California."

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Also? There shall be prizes for some of the top photographs in different categories, including "Best snail/slug meme."

Best snail/slug meme. Welcome to 2017.

The Grand Prize is almost as awesome as traveling with your own personal shell: Lunch with Jann Vendetti, NHMLA Curator of Malacology, as well as one free annual family membership to the museum. (We mean, that's all extremely awesome, but, come on: Nothing beats your own personal back shell.)

There are other NHMLA-cool prizes, too.

Some "rare snails" were spotted by camera-wielding SoCalers in 2016, do note, and other nifty finds, too. Could you contribute the next photo that excites the snailologists of the world? 

Okay, malacologist is the more accurate term, granted. But, still. You might just have a rare snail happily sliming about under your hydrangea bush and not even be aware.

Time to celebrate that lil' guy, and all of our local gastropods, by assuming the important role of citizen scientist.

Details? Slime this way, as slowly as you like, but keep in mind that the deadline for photos is March 31.

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