A Growing iNaturalist Community in Mumbai Documents Their Beach Finds

Because I monitor recent popular observations on iNaturalist for Observation of the Day fodder, every so often I start noticing trends, especially when there’s activity in places where iNaturalist has not had a historically strong community. So it was really cool when, over the last few months or so, I started noticing an uptick in observations from the beaches and seas around Mumbai, India. I didn’t know much about Mumbai, aside from the fact that it’s one of the world’s largest cities, and I was excited to see so many observations in the Marine Life of Mumbai project, showing off the city’s wildlife. I reached out to Shaunak Modi (@shaunak), who started the Marine Life of Mumbai iNat project on behalf of the Marine Life of Mumbai (MLOM) organization.

“When we started Marine Life of Mumbai a year and a half ago, we had a very open-ended idea,” explains Shaunak. “Our aim was to re-introduce the citizens of Mumbai to their largely forgotten heritage - the city's shores, through its marine life.” The group leads monthly shorewalks (below), has downloadable guides to the city’s marine life, and shares photos, finds, and information on social media. “We’ve been able to showcase how much marine life thrives on Mumbai's shores despite the adverse conditions,” he says. Shaunak himself says he’s only been exploring his city’s shores for just about a year but already has a deep passion for it.

Co-founder Pradip Patade (@pradip) had been keeping records of his beachcombing finds for the last few years, and as the group continued its work, they wanted to make their observations accessible to others. “Realising that we now needed to find a resource to publicly share our observations, we started trying out biodiversity databases but didn’t find one that was the right fit for us, until one of our acquaintances; intertidal biologist and iNaturalist user Vishal Bhave, led us to iNaturalist,” Shaunak recalls.

Our aim at Marine Life of Mumbai is to keep all our findings free and public, which is why iNaturalist is a perfect fit. It’s been a fantastic experience from the get-go. As a platform, it’s feature-rich, yet has an easy-to-use interface, which is very important to any citizen-driven project. Not only have the curators helped identify our observations but also take the time to answer our questions...We're thrilled to have our observations reach beyond the boundaries of our project and find a place in other taxon-based projects and get channeled into global databases.

The project itself is MLOM’s main database for observations (clicking on “Database” on their website’s header will take you straight to iNat) and they want to encourage more people to submit their observations. They’re right now in the final planning stages of a “structured, wide-scale citizen science project to map the intertidal biodiversity of Mumbai, with iNaturalist as the platform for managing the data. With its user-friendliness and features, we couldn’t have asked for a better base to power our project.”

This being such a collaborative effort, Shaunak says they would like to “highlight the efforts of the entire Marine Life of Mumbai team. Their hard-work and support on field, is crucial to everything we have been able to achieve.”

- by Tony Iwane. Photos courtesy Marine Life of Mumbai.

  • There have been some excellent articles written about MLOM, I recommend checking them out on the site’s press page.
  • A Marine Life of Goa project is also on iNat, it was started this past May. 
  • Gotta love Shaunak’s video of squirting mollusks at low tide!
  • Here’s an incredible story of a massive clean up effort on one of Mumbai’s beaches.
Posted on September 18, 2018 04:28 AM by tiwane tiwane


Glad you found and enjoy Inaturalist, if you ever find a Echinoderm you cant identify, then feel free to call me, I specialize in them.

Posted by predomalpha about 5 years ago

It's so nice to read about your efforts! Keep up the great work in Mumbai!

Posted by carrieseltzer about 5 years ago

Well done everyone! Keep at it! Marine life in shallow water is very important and very valuable. :)

Posted by susanhewitt about 5 years ago

very cool - I just took a look at all the awesome crabs they are finding!

Posted by loarie about 5 years ago

@predomalpha Thank you. As a matter of fact, there are some brittle stars. I'll share the links with you. :)

@carrieseltzer Thank you! :)

@susanhewitt Thank you and thanks for all the help!

@loarie Thanks! Glad you liked them. :)

Posted by shaunak about 5 years ago

Sounds great:)

Posted by predomalpha about 5 years ago

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