Do you love walking along the Eureka Waterfront Trail and the Humboldt Bay Trail in Arcata? Do you enjoy photographing nature? Have you ever admired a wildflower, bird, or insect, and wished you knew its name? 

If so, you might enjoy our new Humboldt Coastal Biodiversity Project. It is a great way to contribute to citizen science, learn the names of plants and animals, and connect with other nature-lovers. All you need is a smartphone with the iNaturalist app. This is an outdoor activity you can safely enjoy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click HERE for safety tips.

Thanks to the California Coastal Conservancy for funding this project, along with our summer bay tours (which we hope to resume later this summer if it's safe to do so). 

iNaturalist is an app developed by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic Society. People use it to upload observations of plants, animals, or fungi they’ve seen in the wild to a large online database, where scientists and amateur nature enthusiasts from around the world log in to identify these observations. 

Making observations and collecting information is easy – just take photos and upload them straight from a smartphone. Using this powerful citizen science tool, you can help document the biodiversity of Humboldt Bay’s rich ecosystems. 

Using iNaturalist is a great way to learn about plant and animal species. You can use the app to review possible identifications by comparing images and location information. These identifications are then verified by experts from all over the world. And who knows – you could even discover a new species or a major range extension!

There are two ways you can get involved:

1. Take photos and upload your observations:

  • Log in or sign up for iNaturalist (
  • Download the iNaturalist app to your smartphone (or learn how to upload photos from your camera).
  • Take photos. For best results, keep the sun at your back and take shots of multiple features (e.g., flowers, leaves, and the entire plant. You can add multiple photos to the same observation by clicking the “+” icon. To make sure your photos are in sharp focus, you can use your hand or another flat surface to “tell” your phone camera where to focus.
  • Upload your observations to iNaturalist – you can do this on the spot or save them for uploading later in batches. 

2. Identify plants and animals from the observations people have uploaded:

  • Log in to iNaturalist and go to the Humboldt Coastal iNaturalist Project. 
  • Look for observations that need identification. Observations are considered “research grade” when two people agree on the identification. Whether you are an expert in local birds, insects, plants, or fungi, we need you!

Please take precautions to keep you and your family safe during the pandemic!