west virginia box turtle
Flash Reviews

FLASH REVIEW! Observe, Identify, and Share with iNaturalist

December 27, 2019
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The Situation

During every adventure weekend, you come across interesting plants, animals, fungi, and insects – some you are familiar with and others that are totally unique. 

What if there was a FREE smartphone app that let you: 

  • check out what discoveries have been made in a new area you’re visiting, so you know what to look out for while you explore
  • record photos of your discoveries, complete with the where (GPS location) & when (date & time)
  • look at expert suggestions to correctly identify what you find and show where similar discoveries have been made
  • participate in local and international projects to identify certain groups of discoveries, for example, Amphibians in Western Pennsylvania or Eastern Ohio Fungi

The Solution

The perfect way to record, identify, and share the wild things you find on your adventures is to download the iNaturalist app

iNaturalist was created by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society to “connect people to nature”. 

At the same time, you’re also contributing to an international, research-quality database of the world’s plants and animals. 

Currently, iNaturalist has over 750,000 professionals pitching in to connect people to nature, and iNaturalist users have currently made over 30 million observations of 250,000+ species! 

The Review


While I can’t deny my love for field guides, the iNaturalist app is the best way to record and quickly identify the wild things we encounter on our hikes. 

For example, when I uploaded the photo of the Eastern Box Turtle at the top of this page, I had no idea what it was. 

I uploaded the photo, dropped the map pin on my location, and the app immediately showed me similar photos identifying what I had seen as an Eastern Box Turtle. 

At the bottom of the page, it showed a map of the world with the places the turtle had been recorded around the world colored in red. 

inaturalist roadtriptails home
inaturalist roadtriptails location

Within a few hours, a education/outreach specialist with a love of box turtles had confirmed the suggested ID. 

Another cool feature on the iNaturalist app is the ability to do some reconnaissance when you go to a new area. 

By simply hitting the Explore icon on the bottom left, you’ll see a satellite image of your location with pins dropped near you where observations have already been recorded. You also have the ability to look at a list of what’s been seen – giving you a snapshot of what to look out for on your hike. 

Not that you need another reason to download the iNaturalist app, but I just received this very cool summary of our discoveries from last year. We had 23 observations of 21 different species! 

So visit the app store and upgrade your wildlife identification game- FREE*! 

Here’s to a New Year full of new iNaturalist entries! 

* Please note that while the iNaturalist app is free, they do accept donations to grow and improve their platform. Once you’ve used & love iNaturalist, you’ll want to help them out!

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