iNaturalist-an App that Helps Photographers Help Scientists

By Sara Goodnick

Have you ever wondered just what that beautiful flower, butterfly, bird, or other organism is called that you’ve just photographed? Now you can find out!

A recent visit with a friend who is into identifying flowers for restoration of natural environments in St. Louis MO, introduced me to the app, “iNaturalist”. It’s available for all smartphones with internet and computers.

Quote from their website:“One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.”

Also from them: “iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature.


To use it, download the app, create an account then upload your photo(s). If the image has the metadata of date, time and location it will be filled in automatically. Next you can try guessing what your organism is using the suggestions they give and comparing. Sometimes others will take a look at your upload and agree or start a discussion as to just exactly what you have photographed.


Having this accurate knowledge could help you in submitting articles to publications. Careful creation of focused, color correct, sharp images will help everyone involved in the research.

There is a huge amount of info on their website and it will take a long time to fully explore, but even just to make those identifications is a thrilling learning experience!

Sara Goodnick is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

AZPPA Top Ten Photographer of the Year: 2011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,17,18,19