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Volunteers are counting every species around Puget Sound

How many different plant and animal species exist in the Puget Sound region?

That's what hundreds of volunteers have been trying to answer as part of the international competition known as the City Nature Challenge.

One of them is Kelly Brenner, a naturalist and writer.

She was at Alki Beach Sunday finding moon snails and sea stars at low tide.

“It illustrates all of the really amazing nature we have in the city, we don’t have to go ‘out there’ to see interesting nature. It’s right here. It’s right on the beach, it’s in our yards, it’s up on our roof. It’s all around us, all the time,” Brenner says.

So far over 300 people in the Seattle area have cataloged 844 species.

They are competing for the most documented species and the greatest number of citizen scientists.

Brenner says as fun as the Challenge is, it's also important data for the scientific community.

“Well there’s not enough scientists. They just can’t cover all this territory, there’s just not enough funding for them, and they need help. They need us to be out there with our phones taking pictures and documenting what we see,” she says.

And you still have time to find some critters, the deadline is midnight tonight.

The species can be from anywhere...

“Even your backyard. If you have an apartment you can go up on the rooftop and look around, there are going to birds flying over. There’s always something: mosses or lichens or little, tiny bugs. Go find some moss and look at some tardigrades in it. It’s everywhere and you can’t not find it,” Brenner says.

To find out how you can participate go to

Year started with KUOW: 2015