Journal archives for June 2021

June 01, 2021

Pride Month 2021 on iNat

To celebrate Pride Month this June and elevate LGBTQIA+ voices in the iNaturalist community (and the naturalist community more broadly), we’ve invited members of our community who identify as LGBTQIA+ to share their iNat stories. By creating this space, we hope that other members of our community can feel seen, heard, and realize that they're not alone.

We’re also co-hosting a virtual mixer organized by 500 Queer Scientists on June 17th, 6 pm PDT (see in your time zone) and some of the people featured in this blog post will be speaking. Those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and allies are welcome, you can register here!

Comments are closed for this blog post, but feel free to respectfully share your thoughts and experiences in this thread on the iNaturalist Community Forum.

Tchaylet Handel (Blue) (@trh_blue)

Pronouns: she/her

Before I could learn to accept myself as I was, I needed a community that did so. iNat provided me with that. 

I grew up in an ultra religious community. Not so extreme as to be violent towards lgbt people, but deeply homophobic. Because of the expectations of conformity, it was a while before I even questioned my orientation. Even then, it still took me nearly three years to be ready to come out.  

As I began to express my identity publicly, I became increasingly aware of how ostracized lgbt people were in the orthodox community. I eventually realized I couldn't stay. Not unless I wanted to spend my entire life miserable, hiding the truth. 

I was desperately lonely. I no longer could face my peers at synagogue, I'd broken up with my first girlfriend not long before. I was injured and traumatized from my recently completed military service, and couldn't hold down a job. I was just trying to find something to do with my time. I always loved science, and nature, and found iNat in the app store by chance. 

The Israeli community was responsive, even identifying the garden plants which made up most of my starting observations. I soon found the forum, where I was able to engage in conversation with iNatters from around the world.  

It wasn't long before I started on my first IDs, due to the clear need for them and encouragement from other users. Over time, I began to spend more and more time here.  

I'm not lonely any more. I've got many friends whom I've met through iNat. I spend a lot of time identifying, trying to give back to a community which embraced me regardless of the difficulties I'd come through, my medical problems, etc.. Nobody here has ever shamed me for my sexuality, or my gender, neither for having been religious nor for currently being secular, nor for not yet having an academic degree. I can be respected for the work I do, for helping others. I'm grateful, because I've been rejected from many spaces for each of those reasons. But never here. 

Abhas (@abhasm)

Pronouns: he/him

As a child, my grandfather instilled within me a fascination and awe for the natural world. An ornithology and botany professor in India, he would take me with him to parks and natural areas when he’d go birdwatching.

But once I moved to the US, I never saw any biologists who looked like me. And to my family, non-medical biology was a risky and completely unknown career option. In spite of the struggles it took to get there, I studied ecology and organismal biology in college and became a wildlife biologist after graduating. I felt so aligned with my purpose– I’d get to go to the field looking for birds at 6am, and often it didn’t even feel like work!

Now at iNat, I’m so grateful to be able to design products that help people build their own connection to nature. I realized that I was lucky– not everyone has someone to help facilitate that connection, especially folks from marginalized backgrounds who grow up learning “nature isn’t for me.”

Throughout my journey as a naturalist, I’ve often found myself to be one of few, if not the only, people of color and/or queer people in a room. When I speak up or work in these spaces, I always try to remember that everyone, regardless of who they are and where they come from, deserves to feel like nature is for them. I hope that through iNat and Seek, we can help all people feel that they can form their own connections to the natural world.

Sequoia sempervirens (chose not to share share their name or iNaturalist username)

Pronouns: she/her

Nature has been a fun escape for me in a way ever since I was young. I used to look at the stars with telescopes for most of my childhood before trading astronomy for birding around the start of high school, which gradually turned into naturalisting before I started college. iNaturalist was my gateway to everything that wasn’t a bird, since weeds and insects I didn’t know how to start identifying suddenly were put to species due to the help of others. By around the middle of my first year of college, I became a power iNatter, quickly jumping from a little under 10000 observations at the end of my 1st semester to over 75000 today at the end of my 6th. During the time I was on iNaturalist and a bit before, I met the oddly large queer naturalisting community and quickly realized through it that I was queer myself. I therefore have naturalisting (and to a large extent iNaturalist) to thank for helping me feel more authentic in living than before.

Kai Joaquin (@nanofishology)

Pronouns: fe/fin/fizz

I grew up surrounded by nature. My fondest childhood memories involve looking for bugs in my backyard in Seattle. As an adult, I began photographing interesting flora and fauna everywhere I went, and after moving to Texas in 2013, I developed a full-on obsession. For two years, I struggled to identify all the new plants and animals I came across, until I fortuitously participated in a bioblitz at Village Creek State Park, where I first learned to use iNaturalist.

Since that bioblitz, iNaturalist has been instrumental in my growth as a naturalist, science communicator, and mentor. Through iNaturalist, I have found a wonderful community of other naturalists, with whom I have had great experiences doing bioblitzes all over Texas. With the knowledge I've gained, I've become an adept hobby entomologist and birder. I have come across amazing species and behaviors while going on iNat adventures around the world, and have fostered an appreciation for insects in others by sharing these discoveries.

I am a mentor for a group of LGBTQ+ folks in science, and my skills with field research and biology have proven to be a valuable supplement to my career in engineering in terms of my ability to provide guidance to a majority of these students and young professionals.

We hope to highlight more voices, so if you’d like to be featured in a second blog post later during Pride Month, you can email your iNat story to

Posted on June 01, 2021 11:41 PM by tiwane tiwane

June 02, 2021

One Sixth of All Named Species Tallied!

Last week, we tallied 333 thousand species on iNaturalist. We discussed this topic a little under eight months ago when we reached 300 thousand species, so why an update so soon?

Besides the fact that these seemingly insignificant 33 thousand new additions represent about 3 times the global number of bird species, there is also symbolic significance associated with this 333 thousand mark. Most estimates are that there are around 2 million described species globally. That means that we've now succeeded in tallying about 1 in 6 described species with an observation.

The collective capacity of the iNaturalist community to census such a significant portion of life on Earth so quickly is one of the most unique aspects of the initiative and something we should all be very proud of!

So what's next? Unfortunately, unlike many characteristics of iNaturalist that we can extrapolate fairly accurately from the number of participants (e.g. we fairly consistently average about 30 observations per year per participant), its very difficult to predict how quickly the iNaturalist community will continue to tally increasingly rare and hard to find species. For example, we know there are about 11.5k species of reptile. And with about 1.6M reptile observations, we've tallied jut over 7k of them. But how many more observations will it take us to tally those remaining 3.5k species? 5 million? 10 million? It all depends on how small ranged and geographically isolated those remaining species are relative to where the iNaturalist community is most active.

The graphs below show the first iNaturalist observation of each of these species grouped by several vertebrate groups. The dark green dots were tallied since 2020. The light green dots were tallied earlier. For these vertebrate groups, in which most species have been observed, most new species are being tallied in the tropics.

In contrast, for other groups like plants and insects where most species haven't been observed, there is still huge amount of new species being tallied even in well documented places in North America and Europe.

What can we all do to expand iNaturalist's capacity to census greater and greater portions of the Earth's biodiversity? Here are some ideas and please share your thoughts below:

  • Grow the number of observers overall, especially in remote areas
    There are more remaining species are in countries without a lot of iNaturalist usage and in increasingly remote parts of countries with a lot of usage. How can we encourage people who live there to get outside and share with us what they find?

  • Grow the number observers of rare species
    As described above, there's still so much to discover even in well traversed areas like the United States. How can we encourage observers to turn also record often overlooked groups like plants and insects, increase the capacity to document the characters needed to identify these species (e.g. macro lenses), and encourage expeditions to track down rare species?

  • Grow the number of specialist identifiers
    We probably have many more species already represented in existing observations but lack the expert attention needed to identify them to species. This is especially true for diverse and poorly known groups like millipedes where only about 1/3 of observations have species level identifications. What can we do to grow the capacity in the community to identify species in these groups, either by recruiting professionals or teaching one another to become better identifiers?

We've been discussing whether setting a goal of 1 million species tallied should be a part of iNaturalist's 2030 vision. Is achieving that number at all realistic? It will depend not only on iNaturalist's capacity to grow, but also to grow in specific ways and to engage specific types of community members.

Posted on June 02, 2021 03:44 AM by loarie loarie | 51 comments | Leave a comment

June 03, 2021

A Stick Grasshopper Displays Its Tiny Wings in Chile - Observation of the Week, 6/2/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Neotropical Stick Grasshopper (Family Proscopiidae), seen in Chile by @ninangel!

“On January 17th, this summer, I went to explore a place called ‘Cerro Grande’ in La Serena city, in Coquimbo, Chile,” says Ninosca Angel, a marine biology student currently working on her Master’s degree in Zoology.

I was with a marine biologist friend, and while taking pictures of insects we saw two proscopids and I noticed that one of them had wings! Apparently, they were fighting, since the winged proscopid was missing a leg, so I separated them to be able to appreciate the beauty of its wings. When I had it in my hand it made a strange sound, perhaps feeling threatened, then I returned it to its place, surprised by what that can be found in nature. I had never seen a proscopid with wings, I was fascinated.

While they may bear a superficial resemblance to “true” stick insects (Order Phasmida) Proscopiids are grasshoppers, being part of the Infraorder Acrididea. They occur in Central and South America and in addition to their stick-like bodies (the better to camouflage with), their heads are elongated, with bulbous eyes located near the top next to short antennae. Some, at least, are able to leap, but none are known to actually fly.  

Ninosca (above) says she’s always been interested in nature, and feels “fortunate to have a family that loves nature, camping and exploring, either alone or with friends to see if we discover any new species and to record everything we observe.” In addition to schoolwork, she makes videos to raise awareness about nature and of course has started posting her observations to iNat. “I use iNaturalist,” she says,

because I like to share images and data of nature to be able to provide information for scientific research and above all, I like to learn about the species that are found. I would like everyone to use the platform to collaborate and take care of our biodiversity.

- The late macro photographer/videographer (and iNat user) Andreas Kay shot some beautiful footage of Proscopiids, you can see videos here and here.

- Don’t forget, iNaturalist Chile recently joined the iNaturalist network!

Posted on June 03, 2021 12:07 AM by tiwane tiwane | 9 comments | Leave a comment

June 08, 2021

Welcome, Naturalista Costa Rica! ¡Bienvenido, NaturalistaCR!

Today we officially welcome NaturalistaCR (iNaturalist Costa Rica) as the newest member of the iNaturalist Network! NaturalistaCR is a collaboration with the Comisión Nacional para la Gestión de la Biodiversidad (CONAGEBIO) which is in charge of processing, approving, and monitoring applications for access to biodiversity resources, through basic research, bioprospecting, and economic use permits. In addition to CONAGEBIO, will be advised by the CIGECIB, which is an Inter-institutional commission with representatives of the Centro Nacional de Información Geoambiental, Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología and Consejo Nacional de Rectores. The implementation and technical management of Naturalista CR is supported by a close collaboration from ICOMVIS - UNA and the Biodiversity Informatics Research Center.

¡Hoy damos la bienvenida oficialmente a NaturalistaCR (iNaturalist Costa Rica) como nuevo miembro de la Red iNaturalist! NaturalistaCR es una colaboración con la Comisión Nacional para la Gestión de la Biodiversidad (CONAGEBIO), la cual se encarga de procesar, aprobar y monitorear las solicitudes de acceso a los recursos de la biodiversidad, a través de permisos de investigación, bioprospección y uso económico. Además del apoyo de CONAGEBIO, cuenta con el asesoramiento de la CIGECIB, la cual es una comisión interinstitucional con representantes del Centro Nacional de Información Geoambiental, Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología y Consejo Nacional de Rectores. La implementación y gestión técnica de Naturalista CR cuenta con la colaboración de ICOMVIS - UNA y el Centro de Investigación en Informática de la Biodiversidad.

In 2012, Costa Rican INBio had a participatory science initiative with “Bioexplorador”, a biodiversity platform based on the iNaturalist open source software. NaturalistaCR comes to expand INBio’s initial efforts to increase environmental education, public awareness, and facilitate research and technology transfer with iNaturalist’s free, easy to use app that is accessible to the general public. In addition, NaturalistaCR will provide data to BIODATACR, an information system aimed at systematizing, documenting and publishing information on the biodiversity of Costa Rica.

En 2012, el Instituto Nacional de la Biodiversidad, INBio promovió una iniciativa de ciencia ciudadana llamada “Bioexplorador”, una plataforma de biodiversidad basada en el software de código abierto iNaturalist. NaturalistaCR tiene como objetivo continuar con los esfuerzos iniciales de INBio para aumentar la bioalfabetización, facilitar la investigación, y la transferencia de tecnología con una aplicación gratuita y accesible para el público en general. Además, NaturalistaCR proporcionará datos a BIODATACR, un sistema de información destinado a sistematizar, documentar y publicar información sobre la biodiversidad de Costa Rica.

NaturalistaCR logo is the three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus). Sloths are arboreal, medium-size mammals that are one of the most important and charismatic symbols of Costa Rica. Wherever you travel inside the country, you will see sloths featured in signs, shirts and souvenirs. The sloth's popularity is a reflection of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle: living happy, simple, and relaxed.

El logotipo de NaturalistaCR es el perezoso de tres dedos (Bradypus variegatus). Los perezosos, además de ser mamíferos arbóreos de tamaño mediano, son uno de los símbolos más importantes y carismáticos de Costa Rica. Donde quiera que uno vaya, encontrará perezosos dibujados en rótulos, camisetas y souvenirs. La popularidad del perezoso es un reflejo de nuestro estilo de vida “Pura Vida”: vivir feliz, simple y relajado.

Initially, the iNaturalist community in Costa Rica was mainly composed of international visitors reporting species during their vacations, but this has been changing in the last few years thanks to many non-governmental organizations and universities working locally with the app. In the last two years, the Costa Rican iNaturalist community has doubled its number of observations and users, hosting more than 358,000 observations and 11,100 observers to date.

Inicialmente, la comunidad de iNaturalist en Costa Rica estaba compuesta principalmente por visitantes internacionales que reportaban especies durante sus vacaciones, pero esto ha ido cambiando en los últimos años gracias a muchas organizaciones no gubernamentales y universidades que trabajan localmente con la aplicación. En los últimos dos años, la comunidad costarricense de iNaturalist ha duplicado su número de observaciones y usuarios, albergando más de 358.000 observaciones y 11.100 observadores hasta la fecha.

About the iNaturalist Network

The iNaturalist Network now has 18 nationally-focused sites that are fully connected and interoperable with the global iNaturalist site. The sites are: Naturalista Mexico, iNaturalist Canada, iNaturalist New Zealand (formerly NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Colombia, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panama, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australia, ArgentiNat (Argentina), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finland, iNaturalist Chile, iNaturalist Greece, iNaturalist Luxembourg, iNaturalist United Kingdom, iNaturalist Guatemala, iNaturalist Sweden, and now NaturalistaCR. Any iNaturalist user can log in on any of the sites using their same username and password and will see the same notifications.

La Red iNaturalist ahora tiene 18 sitios enfocados a nivel nacional que están completamente conectados e interoperables con el sitio global iNaturalist. Los sitios son: Naturalista México, iNaturalist Canadá, iNaturalist Nueva Zelanda (antes NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Colombia, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panamá, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australia, ArgentiNat (iNaturalist Argentina), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finlandia, iNaturalist Chile,iNaturalist Grecia, iNaturalist Luxemburgo, iNaturalist Reino Unido, iNaturalist Guatemala, iNaturalist Suecia, y ahora NaturalistaCR. Cualquier usuario de iNaturalist puede iniciar sesión en cualquiera de los sitios usando su mismo nombre de usuario y contraseña y verá las mismas notificaciones.

The iNaturalist Network model allows for localizing the iNaturalist experience to better support communities on a national scale and local leadership in the movement, without splitting the community into isolated, national sites. The iNaturalist team is grateful to the outreach, training, translations, and user support carried out through the efforts of the iNaturalist Network member institutions.

La Red de miembros de iNaturalist permite apoyar a las comunidades a escala nacional y promover el liderazgo local, sin dividir a la comunidad en sitios aislados. El equipo de iNaturalist agradece el alcance, la capacitación, la traducción y el apoyo a los usuarios por parte del esfuerzo de cada institución miembro de la Red iNaturalist.

We encourage all Costa Ricans to join the NaturalistaCR platform and learn more about the biodiversity that surrounds us!

Invitamos a todos los costarricenses a unirse a la plataforma NaturalistaCR y aprender más sobre la biodiversidad que nos rodea. ¡Pura vida!

Posted on June 08, 2021 09:24 PM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 14 comments | Leave a comment

June 09, 2021

A Butterfly Alights on the Head of a Snake - Observation of the Week, 6/8/21

Our Observation of the Day is this odd couple of a Gorgone Checkerspot (Chlosyne gorgone) and a Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)! Seen in the United States by @rollingplainst.

Teresa M (rollingplainst) credits her parents for her twin loves of nature and photography. “My father introduced me to photography as a teen, and my first camera was a Polaroid Instant Camera!

He was also keenly interested in reptiles and amphibians, and worked for a time in the Fort Worth Zoo Herpetarium. I was always very interested in birds and butterflies, but through him [I] also gained an interest in reptiles and amphibians.

So a few weeks ago, when returning from running some errands, she let her dog out into the dogyard “and she alerted us to the snake’s presence.

Glancing out the window, I recognized the eastern hognose snake (I had observed one last year as well). The [snake] was already in display mode when I stepped out with my camera (after getting the dog back inside), spreading the skin around its head and neck...

While trying different angles without getting too close (I didn’t want the snake to go into playing dead mode), the gorgone checkerspot landed on the snake’s head!  In fact, it stayed there for a minute or two, allowing me to get a few different angles. After a few more minutes, the butterfly moved on and I went back inside and allowed the snake to leave in its own time. Beautiful creature – I love to see these!

While butterflies are known to obtain salt by drinking the tears of turtles or alligators (or even manure and mud), it’s unlikely this checkerspot is sucking up much here as snakes don’t exude discharge from their eyes. @nlblock, iNat’s top butterfly identifier, brought this observation to my attention and when I asked him what might be going on here, said “[I’m] not sure! It's got its proboscis out like it's probing for minerals, which is what they might do on sweaty mammals, but I'm not sure what it would find on the snake.”

As for the butterfly’s reptilian substrate: eastern hognose snakes feed exclusively on amphibians so the insect is in no danger here. Adults average around 71 cm (28 in) in length and the species ranges throughout much of the eastern United States and into southern Canada. While they’re not dangerous to humans, eastern hognose snakes do secrete some amphibian-specific venom from their rear fangs, which might cause localized swelling if a person is bitten by one. Their little “hognose” snout aids in digging.

“After a long career in education, which left little time to pursue [my interests in nature and photography], I retired,” says Teresa (above). She and her husband moved to the country and she’s currently studying their 14 acres of sandy habitat in the Rolling Plains Ecoregion of Texas where they are also

trying to restore as much of the native habitat as we can, with particular focus on the Northern Bobwhite, pollinators, and native grasses/forbs. I’m thrilled to be able to have the time to return to my love of nature and explore the biodiversity around me. At the same time, I get to hone my very amateur photography skills, a hobby I really love!

She started using iNaturalist last September and is particularly keen that iNat data being available for research. Last year, Texas Parks and Wildlife reached out to her through their Texas Nature Trackers program as they’re studying the distribution of Northern Bobwhites.

The iNaturalist site and community have been wonderful about helping me expand my identification skills and I am more aware of regional populations than I was before. It’s exciting to find a new organism I have not seen before, and to learn about its habits and interactions with the environment and other species. The access to experts has been wonderful, as some of my identification learning is just starting (e.g. native plants), while I am also a little rusty in other areas – well, maybe a lot ! How animals interact with their environment and other species is very interesting to me, and I enjoy trying to capture these interactions as they occur.

- Like Teresa said, hognose snakes are well known to play dead.

- @nlblock’s giraffe weevil was an Observation of the Week over five years ago!

Posted on June 09, 2021 04:58 AM by tiwane tiwane | 13 comments | Leave a comment

June 10, 2021

The Rediscovery of a Lost Fish on iNaturalist

How can we protect the world’s most threatened species before it’s too late? That’s the goal behind the Search for the Lost Fishes campaign launched this week by Shoal in collaboration with Re:wild and the IUCN-SSC Freshwater Fish Specialist Group. The iNaturalist community is already playing an important role in this work with the re-discovery of what would have been one of the campaign’s top 10 most wanted lost species: the Dumbéa River Pipefish.

The Dumbéa River Pipefish, photographed by Damien Brouste

Pipefish are seahorse cousins that kind of look like what would happen if you uncoiled a seahorse. According to Luiz Rocha, the Follett Chair of Ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences “The Dumbéa River Pipefish was first described in 1981 from specimens that had been sitting, overlooked, in the California Academy of Sciences and a few other museums since the 1940s.” But soon after it was discovered and named, the Dumbéa River Pipefish once again slipped off of the conservation community's radar and was thought to be extinct.

The Dumbéa River Pipefish specimen collected in 1944 at the California Academy of Sciences, photographed by Luiz Rocha. iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society

“It’s a very serious problem if a species is assumed to be extinct when it is not – because as soon as that happens, all conservation efforts for the species stop,” says Ian Harrison, Co-Chair of the Freshwater Conservation Committee of IUCN Species Survival Commission, “and if it is already threatened then the chances of it actually becoming extinct increase significantly.” This is the motivating premise of the Lost Fishes campaign: to find these lost species before they disappear.

This is exactly what happened in the case of the Dumbéa River Pipefish. As described in this article by the Lost Fishes campaign, the Dumbéa River Pipefish was originally one of the top 10 Lost Species, but while doing research on this species, the team ran across an iNaturalist observation posted last fall by New Caledonian naturalist Damien Brouste (@damienbr) that he photographed alongside Nicolas Charpin (@nicocharpin), an aquatic scientist with the New Caledonian NGO Vies d'Ô Douce in a pool in the Ouenghi River in New Caledonia. Damien has posted over 3,800 observations from New Caledonia to iNaturalist representing 800 distinct species. "I could not imagine a better tool to connect scientists and citizens," Damien told me. “Thanks to iNaturalist, I've been able to meet people sharing the same passion and count them as friends now." Valentin de Mazancourt (@mazancourt), an associate researcher at the French National Museum of Natural History and very active identifier on iNaturalist, noticed the observation and was able to confirm its identification with a Ph.D. student in his lab working on the taxonomy of Indo-Pacific Pipefishes. "Thanks to iNaturalist, researchers now have an amazing network of observers all around the world that allows us to get valuable new data on rare species like this one," says Valentin. "Sometimes from remote places that would have required a lot of effort and resources to reach otherwise".

Damien Brouste naturalizing in New Caledonia

"I’m so thrilled that this gorgeous pipefish has been rediscovered," rejoiced Amanda Vincent, Chair of the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group. "Now we need to find ways to keep its populations and habitats in good shape. Freshwater pipefishes of the genus Microphis are a particular concern. Of the 24 species in the genus, three are known to be at risk and we can’t even assess 12 other species. It would be wonderful if anybody could share information on the Spinach pipefish, or any of the other Data Deficient species."

By connecting local naturalists such as Damien in New Caledonia with researchers from around the world such as Valentin’s lab at the French National Museum of Natural History, iNaturalist is a powerful tool for rapidly and accurately censusing the Earth’s biodiversity and identifying rare species such as the Dumbéa River Pipefish that are only just hanging on so their protection can be prioritized.

According to Ian Harrison, "finding these fishes can be difficult to do, and time consuming. And that is where citizen science can help: a force of people who are mobilized to help seek out these species, and share information on their observations. iNaturalist is an excellent way of achieving that. The information gathered through iNaturalist can increase our knowledge of the presence of species. By knowing where they are distributed, and what threats are present in these areas, this information can help assess the risk of extinction of these species, for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species."

The Search for the Lost Fishes campaign will help coordinate these searches for species that haven't been recorded in over a decade, but are yet to be declared Extinct. Shoal's partners will head out to some of the planet's most far-flung freshwaters, from a small town in Iraq to the world's highest lake, from the jungles of Papua New Guinea to central Madagascar, with the aim of rediscovering species of fish so that we may implement a conservation programme to give them every possible chance of future survival. "The goal of Search for the Lost Fishes is to give a second chance to species that, for one reason or another, have fallen off our collective radar. It's an opportunity to celebrate the overlooked fishes on the list, and offer hope for their future. And it's about curiosity and adventure, about encouraging people to get out there and connect with their local waterways to help advance scientific understanding," says Michael Edmondstone, Shoal's Communications and Engagement Lead. "iNaturalist is an ideal fit for this, as it presents the opportunity for passionate naturalists in the field to connect with taxonomic experts around the world. Damien's sighting of the Dumbéa River pipefish is the perfect example of how iNaturalist can connect people and give their observations a global platform."

The Dumbéa River Pipefish may have been found but many lost fishes remain. The Top 10 List released by the Lost Fishes campaign this week includes:
Annamite barb (possibly central Vietnam)
Diyarbakir (Batman River) loach (Turkey)
Duck-billed buntingi (Indonesia)
Spinach pipefish (Papua New Guinea)
Mesopotamian barbel (Eastern Turkey, Eastern Syria, Iran, Iraq)
Syr Darya shovelnose sturgeon (Tajikistan and Uzbekistan)
Titicaca orestias (Peru)
Haditha cavefish (Iraq)
Itasy cichlid (Madagascar)
Fat catfish (Lake Tota basin, Colombia)

If you live or are traveling where any of these species occur, please help us find them. And wherever you live, go outside and use iNaturalist to document the fishes that occur in your neighborhood. You never know what you might find!

Can you also contribute knowledge about seahorses, the immediate relatives of pipefishes? We invite everybody to make contributions to iSeahorse, the iNaturalist partner that tracks seahorse sightings. We value all contributions, which have greatly expanded our understanding of seahorse species’ geographic ranges. We also seek community partners who can undertake long-term monitoring of seahorse populations.

Posted on June 10, 2021 05:23 PM by loarie loarie | 24 comments | Leave a comment

June 22, 2021

A Nigerian Naturalist Spots a Lifer African Map Butterfly! - Observation of the Week, 6/22/21

Our Observation of the Week is this African Map Butterfly (Cyrestis camillus), seen in Nigeria by @dotun55!

Adedotun Ajibade tells me that, as a child growing up in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, he was interested in gardening and nature, but his interest “peaked” when he was convalescing from an ailment. “I spent most of my time in a flower garden where I noticed plants and wildlife differently for the first time,” he says,

Diverse flowers and resident or visiting insects were observed. Birds with their calls were also closely observed, something I never really paid enough attention to. This refreshed perspective of nature provided me with a better appreciation of it. And seeing was not enough. I needed to preserve the memories of observations for myself and others, which inspired my photography, and I have not stopped ever since. My desire to explore landscapes and see new organisms sometimes sets me on dedicated eco-trips.

Earlier this month, Adedotun visited the Ise Forest Conservation Area (ranger station), which is part of the SW/Niger Delta Forest Project, to support filming by WildAid. During his downtime he rescued butterflies trapped in the netted camp areas and visited the camp pond where he noticed butterflies mud-puddling along the bank. Unfortunately the swallowtails flew off before he could get closer but 

I looked on the ground beyond where they were for other arthropod treats. And there sat a different set of butterflies - a few familiar blues, and 2 exotic-looking leps. The latter felt like beholding angels. I was star-struck.

I [at first] guessed they were day-flying moths. The fake eyes and small streaks at their wing posterior were notable. They lay flat, white wings parallel to the damp forest floor. I could not immediately make out any clubbed antenna, the most important ID means for a butterfly.

One of them flew, before I could reach for a mobile photo. After an unsatisfactory shot, the second specimen took off also. It fluttered about the vicinity, briefly resting on a peripheral forest foliage. I stood still while it eventually sat on the floor again, for a happy close up.

I shared the observation on iNaturalist as soon as I got out of the forest and got a quick ID for African map butterfly, an absolute new one for me.

A forest dweller, the African map butterfly ranges across a large swath of Sub-Saharan Africa, from Sierra Leone down to Mozambique and Madagascar. It’s known to spread its wings when at rest and its larvae feed on plants such as Ficus, Ziziphus, and Morus. Members of this genus are called "map" butterflies beause their wing markings resemble latitude and longitude lines.

Adedotun (above, in the Mbe Mountain Community Forest) is an aspiring professional biologist (his degree is in Computer Science) and started using iNaturalist almost exactly eight years ago. He currently has observed more species in Nigeira than anyone else on iNat and says that while lepidoptera, odonata and birds are his primary interests, “my focus shifts with new environments and their unique offerings which I often keenly look out for.”

He uses iNaturalist for ID help, to store his observations, connect to other naturalists, and to explore the world’s biodiversity. 

When I'm not on the field, I'm on iNaturalist sharing recent and old observations...Using iNaturalist makes me acknowledge that the world is connected by nature. Biodiversity is common to us all, regardless of region, race or religion. And every organism, no matter how mammoth, minute, or rife, is relevant in the web of life.

(Photo of Adedotun by Emmanuel Bassey of WCS Nigeria)

Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

- Checkout Adedotun’s photos on Instagram!

- Travel back in time to 2016 when a Common Glider butterfly in Africa was Observation of the Week!

Posted on June 22, 2021 09:07 PM by tiwane tiwane | 27 comments | Leave a comment

June 24, 2021

Meet Navin Sasikumar, an iNaturalist Monthly Supporter

This is the first in a series of posts interviewing members of the iNaturalist community who are also Monthly Supporters. iNaturalist Monthly Supporters give automatic, recurring charitable donations and can be recognized on their profile pages, if they choose to from their account settings. Monthly Supporters are a critical part of our community and help ensure that iNaturalist is freely available to people all over the world. You can become a Monthly Supporter by giving your first recurring donation online. Thank you!

For the rest of 2021, we'll profile several different Monthly Supporters to highlight members of the community and why they support iNaturalist.

Navin Sasikumar is a software engineer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States and an amateur urban naturalist in his spare time. Although he started with birds and birding, his interests now include all urban nature in Philadelphia. In keeping with that urban biodiversity theme, he is also a volunteer organizer for Philadelphia’s participation in the City Nature Challenge (see what they found this year—Navin made over 1000 observations during the 4 days). He also enjoys cultivating wildlife-friendly gardens in city spaces.

How did you first get into iNaturalist?
I was just starting to get interested in things other than birds and keeping records of what I saw. eBird was great to keep track of my bird sightings and I used Odonata Central for dragonflies and eButterfly for butterflies, but beyond that I had an unwieldy spreadsheet of various other organisms. That’s when a friend mentioned iNaturalist to me. I think it might have been around the time the computer vision element was launched. I tried it out and was immediately hooked. I not only had a way to keep track of all my sightings, but I could easily narrow down organisms I knew nothing about through computer vision, and I had an expert community to further help where the AI wasn’t quite as successful. I could see what else people were seeing around me and that helped me learn more about the biodiversity around me.

What made you want to donate monthly, in addition to everything else you do with iNaturalist?
iNaturalist has given me so much. A community, knowledge, and countless hours of fun. And as a software engineer, I am well aware of the costs involved in running something like iNaturalist. And I am constantly amazed at how much the small team at iNat is able to accomplish. I want to see iNat continue forever, so that motivated me to contribute via monthly donations.

What keeps you motivated?
There’s a common misconception that there is no nature in cities, so I initially set out to see if I could find 1000 species in the city of Philadelphia. Once I reached that, I set myself new cumulative species goals each year. Sort of similar to a combination of a birder’s year and life lists. The goal was 1000 species total in the city by the end of 2019, 1200 by the end of 2020, and now I hope to get 1400 by the end of 2021. All in the city of Philadelphia. And there’s just so many species I have yet to see, it’s always exciting. I can go out to a park I’ve visited hundreds of times and still find new species. It’s not hard to be motivated, it’s hard to stop iNatting.

What’s something that you’d like more members of the iNaturalist community to know or do?
I would suggest donating to iNaturalist if you have the means to and don’t donate already. The cost of running servers and storage, I would assume, is huge and even more, we also want to support the incredible staff at iNaturalist. I would also suggest working with local organizations (not only those in the nature space) to see if there are ways to increase participant diversity on iNaturalist to something that is more representative of your community at-large. The more diversity of people we have using iNaturalist, the more biodiversity we can capture on iNat.

Thank you to @navin_sasikumar and all of the Monthly Supporters!

Become a Monthly Supporter
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iNaturalist is fortunate to have so many deeply dedicated and enthusiastic community members. We’re grateful to everyone who is generous with their time, expertise, and other gifts.

iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. All donations will be received by the California Academy of Sciences, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization based in the United States of America (Tax ID: 94-1156258). Gifts can be made online in more than 30 different currencies via bank account, credit/debit card, or PayPal.

Posted on June 24, 2021 01:44 PM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 11 comments | Leave a comment

June 29, 2021

A Chinese Naturalist Posts the First Erismanthus sinensis Plant to iNat! - Observation of the Week, 6/29/21

Our Observation of the Week is the first Erismanthus sinensis (轴花木 in Chinese (simplified)) plant posted to iNat! Seen in China by @qin_huang!

While he studied at Zhejiang University’s Energy Department, Qin Huang tells me “I was more interested in nature and participated in many nature activities, such as Green Camp China 2007, in Changbai Mountain Nature Reserve.” After graduation, Qin found work in Doctor Shuihua Chen's team at the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, mostly studying birds “such as Light-vented Bulbul, the Chinese Blackbird in urbanized environments, and also some very rare seabirds such as Chinese Egret and Chinese Crested Tern on small offshore islands in Zhoushan and Jiushan City” 

He’s since done research and conservation work at the Biological Museum of Sun Yat-Sen University and 

from the end of 2016, I had a great opportunity to be an ecological tour leader and I had the chance to travel to many countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Uganda, New Zealand, Australia. My favorite country is Malaysia. I have been there eight times and encountered wild Malay tapirs, Malay Bears, Asian elephants, Horsfield's tarsier, Orangutans, Helmeted hornbills, etc. In 2017, we had a wonderful journey to New Zealand, and encountered one Southern Brown Kiwi on Stewart Island. During that journey, my local friend introduced me to iNaturalist.

Now residing in Shenzhen, China, Qin participates in biodiversity surveys, makes trail signs, and shoots nature documentaries. It was while filming a ten minute documentary at the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park this past March where he and his team came across an Erismanthus sinensis plant blooming near a waterfall in Bawangling National Natural Reserve.

The flowers are very beautiful, like natural earrings. We couldn’t help but spend maybe ten minutes taking pictures. Now my friend Wucheng, a jewelry designer, is working to turn its flower image into art jewelry, so that more people can know its beauty.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find much information about this species online, but Qin notes it’s one of only two species in its genus (the other is Erismanthus obliquus). It’s found in Southeast Asia and can grow from 3 to 11 meters tall. 

Since joining iNat in 2018, Qin (above, in Qinghai Province) has uploaded over ten thousand observations to iNaturalist, from China and all over the world, and tells me 

Through this platform, I have expanded my understanding and knowledge of nature, communicating with nature lovers from all over the world. Although it is not big enough, it is also a window for more people to understand the wildness of China.

Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow. Photo of Qin Huang by Demeng Jiang.

- is a member of Family Euphorbiaceae, check out the most-faved observations of this plant family!

- Bawangling National Nature Reserve is the only home to the Hainan gibbon, perhaps the rarest primate on the planet.

Posted on June 29, 2021 11:46 PM by tiwane tiwane | 19 comments | Leave a comment

June 30, 2021

Pride Month 2021 Wrap Up

We're wrapping up Pride Month and wanted to share the stories of two more members of the iNat community who identify as LGBTQIA+, similar to our blog post on June 1st. We hope that other members of our community can feel seen, heard, and realize that they're not alone.

We want to thank everyone in the community making it a welcoming place and for sharing and listening here, on the forum, and at the amazing virtual mixer run by Dr. Lauren Esposito from 500 Queer Scientists!

Comments are closed for this blog post, but feel free to continue respectfully sharing your thoughts and experiences in this thread on the iNaturalist Community Forum.

Diego Almendras (@diegoalmendras)

Pronouns: he/him

Understanding how diverse is nature help me to realize how diverse we are, thus, I never felt bad for being homosexual.

I grew up in the coast in Central Chile and, as a child, I spent my free time in an infinite rocky intertidal, hearing the power of the sea, surrounded by weird animals, it really opened my mind. I mean, there is nothing more queer than a fierce and flamboyant colorful sea slug?

Now, I can name these rare mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and egg cases using iNaturalist. And sometimes, with my partner, we spend a lot of time outside, recording everything which call our attention to this platform. This community has piqued his curiosity about the natural world, our world. Sadly, he refuses to open an account but that's okay, as long as he point out interesting things to me that I've overlooked.

I consider myself lucky to have been born in a warm and progressive family, which is always by my side for my next challenge. They have probably gone through the same path with me - sure, having a gay brother must be complicated at some social point, but being gay is fine, it's not bad at all. There is more and more research and findings of homosexual unions in the animal world, powerful unions that allow success in raising the next generation in gregarious animals. Nature never ceases to amaze me, and I was born to learn more about it.

And definitively I stay here on iNaturalist, because it is a place where there is no hate and spam, thank the universe!

Felix Flax (@feralbeetle)

Pronouns: he/him

I'm a twenty year old transgender man and discovering iNaturalist really helped me when I was moving to university in 2019 - I started attending university in a different country than the one I grew up in so I knew absolutely nobody, and using iNaturalist gave me a reason to leave my dorm room, which cheered me up because I had something to do and I noticed all the different fauna that I didn't have back home. Making friends was difficult for me, especially since my new university didn't have a large number of out trans people like my high school had. By being outside I interacted with people more often on campus, and over time those chance encounters led to friendships. iNaturalist was a discovery I made long after my queerness, yet in many ways both are equally big parts of my life now.

Posted on June 30, 2021 11:28 PM by tiwane tiwane