This is the first time I’m reviewing a website on this blog, but it’s a very special website that I think many of you will appreciate. It’s called iNaturalist, and it is a place for people to post their nature sightings from all over the world! The system is very easy to use. Just take pictures while you’re out, of anything living. When you get home, you upload a picture to the site, mark where and when you took it, and identify it as best you can. If you want to add more information, there are options for that but it isn’t required.
Even if can’t identify it, you can still post it. You could, for example, write “bird,” or “finch,” and someone else can look at the picture and finish identifying it for you. Similarly, you don’t have to worry about guessing wrong, because someone will notice and correct you. Everyone seems very polite about it.
If you’re worried about giving away the location, there are features to provide security. For one, if an organism is “Near Threatened” or worse, the coordinates in the database are obscured. Essentially, it will show a random point within 10 kilometers of the sighting. You can also set this manually, eg. if you take a picture at your house but don’t want people to know where you live.
Once the data is in the system, you can do several neat things with it. Say you’re planning on going on a hiking/camping trip, and want to know what cool animals to keep your eyes out for. Simply enter the location into the search bar, and it will show you every observation anyone has made in that area. Similarly, if you want to find a particular plant or animal, the map can show the location of every sighting, so you know where to concentrate your search.
Researchers use the data to update species range maps, to watch the spread of invasive species, and to track rare species, among other things.
If you set up an account, which I highly recommend, make sure to join the Natural Geographic Great Nature Project. Between September 21 and September 29, they are creating a global biodiversity snapshot. Essentially, they want to see the range of organisms spotted worldwide at one moment in time. This is a very ambitious and worthwhile project, so check it out!
Also check out my profile!
~The Homesteading Hippy