Need help identifying an organism? iNaturalist may help.

I love finding new critters with my Foldscope. I love even more being able to name the new critters I find as a name allows me to search the internet and learn so much more about the organism. As humans we love to name stuff as it informs our imagination as much as it does our eyes and ears.

A few days ago during lunch I happened to pull a mess of Japanese Bubble Snail eggs from Lake Merritt in Oakland, California and take it back home to probe with my Foldscope. I found tons or organisms, but couldn’t name anything beyond the eggs. I posted some of the images I took with my Foldscope in iNaturalist and too my pleasant surprise someone was able to ID one of the diatoms I had found:


The way iNaturalist works is simple; you upload photographs to the website through an app you can get on android or iPhone and a community of naturalist do their best to help identify the organisms. The great thing about using your cellphone is it can capture your GPS location and a time stamp, so when you upload to iNaturalist that meta data goes along with your observation. You can contribute to our understand of where species are and hopefully learn some new taxa along the way! Here is a quick video that can get you up to speed on using iNaturalist:


There is an obvious synergy between iNaturalist and Foldscope and I’d like to encourage anyone using the Foldscope to observe living organisms to think about also posting into iNaturalist as hopefully it can help you get some of your unknown organisms named and help build out that global database of species locations. If you start contributing to iNaturalist there is a project that exists for Foldscope users so we can easily see, help ID and be amazed at the organisms we are all seeing with our Foldscopes:


There are already observations flowing into this project:


iNaturalist does not have the depth of stories behind each image and the sharing of techniques like Microcosmos, so you’ll find me posting in both places. If you need any help with getting a grip on using iNaturalist, please feel free to reach out to me in iNaturalist

or here in Microcosmos.




One Comment Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Awesome post @Damon. I am a very strong believer of mutual benefits for both these communities – and we have a once in a lifetime chance of truly bringing microscopic world to citizens around the world and uncover “incredible” I described biodiversity at small scale.

    Excited about this mutual cross posts.. I am tarting to explore to integrate iNat API directly in WordPress; to enable iNat entries from the site itself. If you have some know how on that (or can out me in touch with other iNat users who have done this integration on project websites); I would love to meet them.


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