Become a citizen scientist with iNaturalist

Did you know that, armed with nothing more than your cell phone or camera, you can contribute meaningfully to science by uploading photos you’ve taken of living things while out enjoying nature? You can join the tens of thousands in Canada who in 2018 uploaded nearly half a million observations to iNaturalist! That’s a significant contribution to the 15 million global observations submitted for the year. Once uploaded, members of the iNaturalist community help identify whatever you’ve observed. Those observations that can be confidently identified become “research grade”, and then can then be used by scientists to help understand & protect the areas we enjoy so much.

WRWEO’s awareness of & use of the iNaturalist platform on the Bluff Trail started with participation in the HaliBlitz 2017 event hosted by the Ecology Action Centre and the Canadian Wildlife Federation. At this event, we had the pleasure of learning from expert hike leaders & helping as volunteers. Judging by the great turnout and enthusiasm of everyone we met, Halifax has an appetite for learning more about life in our area, and is willing to lend a hand to help advance the scientific study of the ecosystems in which we live.

Encouraged by this experience, and having board members who have used the platform over the last year, we made it even easier to see which species have been observed on our own trail by defining an iNaturalist place for the Bluff Trail in late 2018. Every observation you make and submit to iNaturalist will now appear on this page. If you’d like to get involved, all you have to do is join iNaturalist and start uploading your observations. Those of us already signed up will be able to see your contributions as they are submitted, will help ID those contributions, and help you acquire the skills you need to improve your observations & your identifying skills.

In fact, even photos from past visits can be uploaded, so you don’t even need to wait until your next visit to the trail! Just upload your photos (it can be one or more photos) for each observation, check they have a date, time, approximate coordinates, accuracy expressed in metres, and submit. If you are confident you know what it is, you can include that, or else you can wait for help from the community to determine what it is you observed.

So don’t be intimidated. Join up, take lots of photos, upload, and have fun learning while you explore! We look forward to seeing what you’ve found and you will be contributing to the knowledge of the living things in and around The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. Here is a brief getting started guide from the iNaturalist site to help orient you.

P.S. We’re sure most of you know this already, but if you are a new observer, do respect the wildlife while you’re observing it. Please don’t pick or otherwise stress out your photographic subjects, and stay on the trail to minimize your impact to their environment.

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