Have you ever been on a walk, passed a beautiful flowering bush, and wondered what it was?  Well, wonder no more!  You can become an expert naturalist by using an easy smartphone app, iNaturalist.  With one easy download, you can connect with others to identify species and document their occurrence.

iNaturalist is a community of naturalists, citizen scientists and biologists working together to share observations of biodiversity and map the occurrence.  Parents need to know that iNaturalist is an online community that allows users age 13 and older to share pictures and locations of the living things they see around them. While considered very safe, like any online network, teens should be cautious with sharing.

Getting started is easy.  All you need to do is create an account at iNaturalist.org and download their free iNaturalist app to your smartphone (Android or iOS). You can then start making your own nature observations, upload them to iNaturalist where you can share your discoveries with others, and also let other iNaturalist users help identify what you have seen.

iNaturalist is a great way to connect with nature and generate scientifically valuable biodiversity data.  You can use it for your own personal fulfillment, or as part of a group.  You can even use the project feature which allows you to have a central page that displays all the observations made within a location, or all observations made by a group. Why not organize your neighbors, club, or friends and challenge them to post their observations?

Dog vomit fungus (Fuligo septica)

Mystery blob in the garden. Can you figure out what it is? Photo: Laura Tiu

I recently used iNaturalist to identify a bright yellow blob that sprung up in my garden overnight. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what it is.  Why don’t you head on over to iNaturalist.org and see if you can figure it out?  It will be your first step to becoming an expert naturalist.

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