Journal archives for December 2022

December 11, 2022

iNaturalist in the New York Times

Thank you for earning iNaturalist the reputation as the nicest place online!

We're thrilled iNaturalist was featured on the front page of the Sunday New York Times in a very interesting piece written by @amy_harmon. And we're also extremely proud of iNaturalist's reputation that her article celebrates as a positive, collaborative, and constructive corner of the internet. This is a reflection of you - the incredible community of participants who use iNaturalist. Thank you so much for all of the knowledge, kindness, and passion you've given and continue to give to this site.

You can check out the article here (link will work for non-subscribers) and there's a thread about the article on the iNat forum.

The word cloud below was generated from 1,000,000 words randomly selected from the ~200,000 comments posted to iNaturalist in the last month. I made it because I was hoping to see Thank and Please featured prominently, and they are :)

Posted on December 11, 2022 06:47 AM by loarie loarie | 21 comments | Leave a comment

December 13, 2022

A Ray of Electric Blue - Observation of the Week, 12/13/22

Our Observation of the Week is this Bluespotted Fantail Ray (Taeniura lymma), seen off of Kenya by @dzivulajr_03!

Dzivula Gube was born in coast Kenyan, around the town of Malindi, but unfortunately did not spend much time in the ocean.

As a kid, I grew up not knowing much about what lies below the waves due to some community laws that prohibited kids from going into the ocean. We were told to believe that the ocean was the biggest enemy for kids. For me, those were the saddest moments in my life as I [later] came to realize how beautiful it is being under the world’s finest wilderness.

With the ongoing climate change campaigns, it was not too long before I realized that something was not right within our nature. Forests were disappearing at a very fast rate, wild animals dying of hunger, corals bleaching and dying due to increase in atmospheric temperatures. Fishermen were greatly impacted, and so was I. It was a pity not knowing what to do to help solve the crisis.

During his third year at university, Dzivula took his first scuba dive.

It was the best feeling I have ever had. One thing immediately caught my sight, it was the beautiful schools of fish (Lutjanus kasmira - as I came to learn later) swimming around a reef. This was the moment that the seed for my passion and love for nature was sowed into my life. The questions that I got from my family and friends about the underwater world really prompted me to think of carrying a camera on my next dive. Since that day the C in SCUBA has meant something else, something like a camera. I don't want to dive without it. Each time I am on a coral reef restoration dive, I take the camera with me. I love taking photos of fish and corals and telling story about not only the beauty of our underwater world but also the need for us to protect it.

Still diving, Dzivula currently works as a reef ranger at Shimoni with Reefolution Kenya, and also as a photographer, filmmaker, and storyteller with AFRISOS. While on a dive last month, Dzivula came across the colorful ray you see above.

Each time I get out of the water from a dive I usually feel happy, having contributed something towards nature conservation and looking forward to my next dive. It was one of these fine moments that I came across the Taeniura lymma relaxing within our artificial reefs. I had to be cautious not to scare it off given that they usually tend to be super shy. Took some shots starting from a bit far but each time adjusting my distance by moving closer and closer. It was so relaxed. This shot was from just about 3 cm away from the camera (Nikon Coolpix)...

On the boat after the dive, all I was thinking about was getting to my computer as fast as possible to upload the photo to iNaturalist. After all, I wasn't sure about the species name.

Ranging throughout much of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans, bluespotted fantail rays are small bottom feeders (about 35 cm/ 14 in wide) that rest in reefs and other shelters during the day before heading out at night to hunt. While shy, this ray does possess defensive venomous spines on its tail (which has two electric blue stripes). It’s listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN Redlist, and it’s caught for food in some areas. It’s also sometimes caught for aquarium use but generally does not survive long in captivity.

Dzivula (above) was introduced to iNaturalist just a few months ago by a friend. 

It has really helped me with species identification. In addition to giving me the opportunity to interact with different people around the world and morale to continue uploading new observations, it also helps me learn new species, especially fish. With iNaturalist I get to see new organisms that I never thought existed. Each day, iNaturalist brings you something to light your day!

(Photo of Dzivula by TonyWild. Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.)

- You can follow Dzivula on Twitter and Instagram.

- Here’s some cool bluespotted fantail ray footage.

- Check out this article on the “trabecular cartilage” that’s in cownose ray (Rhinoptera bonasus) jaws.

- @gurveena, another marine conservationist in Kenya, photographed a lizard that was a previous Observation of the Week!

Posted on December 13, 2022 11:42 PM by tiwane tiwane | 17 comments | Leave a comment

December 15, 2022

Email addresses for iNaturalist accounts must now be confirmed

Until today, iNaturalist did not send confirmation emails to verify email address when anyone signed up for an account. The result is that many iNaturalist accounts have email address typos or have no email address whatsoever (usually because the account was made with Facebook and, due to your Facebook privacy settings, we were never sent your email address). 

This means that if iNaturalist needs to send you an email, you won’t receive it. So when you request a password reset email, for example, you may never get it. Or, you might be able to make two accounts by accident. We want to prevent these things from happening as they're frustrating for users and require staff support to fix. We also need to be able to contact you about your account if necessary. 

Starting today, we’re rolling out email confirmation to all iNaturalist accounts. If someone makes a new account, they will be sent an email to the address they entered when creating the account. They will then need to click a link in the email to confirm they received it in order to access their new iNaturalist account. 

Here’s how it works for those with existing accounts:

If you already have an iNaturalist account, you have until September 6th, 2023 to confirm the email address for that account. You can do so by going to your Account Settings at You’ll see the following:

Before clicking on anything, please check the email address - ensure it is spelled correctly and is for an email account you can access. Otherwise it may not be sent to you.

Once you have checked and/or corrected the email address, click on “Send confirmation email”.  One last warning pop-up will appear before you are signed out of iNaturalist and the confirmation email is sent. You will remain logged in to iNaturalist.

After clicking “Send confirmation email” on the pop-up, check your email for an email confirmation message and click on the confirmation link in the email. It will take you to iNaturalist and you should see a banner that says "Your email address has been successfully confirmed."

If you do not receive a confirmation email after requesting one, please search for emails from If you still can't find it, please email

Until you’ve confirmed your account’s email address, you will see this banner throughout the website:

UPDATED 12/15/22, 4:48 PM -07:00 - edited text to say that sending a confirmation email does not lock you out of your account, as that functionality has changed. An earlier update also removed text about those who have unsubscribed from past email as it was confusing.

UPDATED 9/6/23, 10:36 AM -07:00 - edited text and change confirmed-by date to September 6th, 2023.

Posted on December 15, 2022 12:01 AM by tiwane tiwane | 9 comments | Leave a comment

A new Computer Vision Model including 1,403 new taxa in 32 days

We released a new computer vision model today. It has 68,853 taxa, up from 67,553.

This new model (v1.5) was trained on data exported exported last month on November 13th and added 1,403 new taxa.

Taxa differences to previous model

The charts below summarize these 1,403 new taxa using the same groupings we described in past release posts.

By category, most of these 1,403 new taxa were insects and plants

Here are species level examples of new species added for each category:

Click on the links to see these taxa in the Explore page to see these samples rendered as species lists. Remember, to see if a particular species is included in the currently live computer vision model, you can look at the “About” section of its taxon page.

We couldn't do it without you

Thank you to everyone in the iNaturalist community who makes this work possible! Sometimes the computer vision suggestions feel like magic, but it’s truly not possible without people. None of this would work without the millions of people who have shared their observations and the knowledgeable experts who have added identifications.

In addition to adding observations and identifications, here are other ways you can help:

  • Share your Machine Learning knowledge: iNaturalist’s computer vision features wouldn’t be possible without learning from many colleagues in the machine learning community. If you have machine learning expertise, these are two great ways to help:
  • Participate in the annual iNaturalist challenges: Our collaborators Grant Van Horn and Oisin Mac Aodha continue to run machine learning challenges with iNaturalist data as part of the annual Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference. By participating you can help us all learn new techniques for improving these models.
  • Start building your own model with the iNaturalist data now: If you can’t wait for the next CVPR conference, thanks to the Amazon Open Data Program you can start downloading iNaturalist data to train your own models now. Please share with us what you’ve learned by contributing to iNaturalist on Github.
  • Donate to iNaturalist: For the rest of us, you can help by donating! Your donations help offset the substantial staff and infrastructure costs associated with training, evaluating, and deploying model updates. Thank you for your support!
Posted on December 15, 2022 11:48 PM by loarie loarie | 15 comments | Leave a comment

December 31, 2022

An Interview with Thomas Mesaglio (@thebeachcomber)

Last month I made my first (and hopefully not last) visit to Australia, and was lucky enough to have Thomas Mesaglio (@thebeachcomber) and his family show me the incredible flora and fauna of the Sydney area. I’ve known Thomas from his time as a moderator on the iNaturalist Forum, and he’s contributed to iNat in so many ways. He’s added tens of thousands of observations, hundreds of thousands of identifications, serves as a site curator and forum moderator, and also helps organize the Sydney City Nature Challenge. 

Thomas and another iNat user Corey T. Callaghan (@coreytcallaghan) have worked on several papers using iNat data over the last few years and their most recent, “The benefits of contributing to the citizen science platform iNaturalist as an identifier,” (it’s open access) had just been published when I was in Australia. 

So after a wonderful day naturalizing with Sydney-based iNatters @sofiazed1, @cynthia_c, @jennyvzo, and @eamonn_c, Thomas was generous enough to talk about himself, iNat, and that paper with me. Here’s the video:

- two other papers Thomas and Corey have co-authored are “An overview of the history, current contributions and future outlook of iNaturalist in Australia” and “Rapidly mapping fire effects on biodiversity at a large-scale using citizen science”.

- many, many, iNat users contributed to “The benefits of contributing to the citizen science platform iNaturalist as an identifier,” please check out the paper to see the entire list. 

- Thomas’s book “Seashells of North Haven Beach” is available here.

- take a look at iNat’s Identifier Profiles to learn a bit more about some of iNat’s top identifiers.

Posted on December 31, 2022 11:00 PM by tiwane tiwane | 39 comments | Leave a comment