Image of CoastWatch iNaturalist Challenge banner over photo of sea anemones.

CoastWatch is inaugurating a new, special project this autumn, the CoastWatch Fall iNaturalist Challenge, which will take place Sept. 23-Oct. 3.  (Note–this event has been extended by one day, through 11:50 p.m. Oct. 3.) The ten-day challenge, which anyone (not just CoastWatchers) can join, is in effect a coastwide bioblitz, during which CoastWatch mile adopters and others are invited to observe, record, and upload photos of shoreline flora and fauna. 

Observations for the project will be uploaded to iNaturalist, a free platform—both a website and an app—which allows anyone to record observations of plants and animals, utilizing pictures from a phone or digital camera. Participants share what they’ve found and contribute to a global dataset of biodiversity information used for both science and conservation.

We have been inspired by Snapshot Cal Coast.  For two weeks every year, from mid-June to early July, the California Academy of Sciences mobilizes and organizes partners along the entire California shoreline to make and share observations of as many species as possible, building an annual snapshot of biodiversity along the California coast. We hope to collaborate on creating a similar tradition in Oregon.

Observations made during the same span of time can provide a better understanding of the Oregon coast’s biodiversity and the places most in need of protection. The network of hundreds of CoastWatch volunteers along the Oregon coast forms in essence a community of citizen scientists, with the collective ability to discover and document countless species. From mole crabs to mossy chitons, from sea stars to seaweeds, participants will create a record of what species are found on individual miles of the Oregon coast during this time period.

While non-CoastWatchers are welcome to join in this activity, mile adopters who participate are encouraged to fill out a CoastWatch mile report for one of the ten days, sharing with us that you participated in the challenge.

Download the free iNaturalist app on your phone and find our project, CoastWatch Fall Challenge 2022. CoastWatch will provide an online training soon, which will be recorded and viewable anytime on our YouTube channel. The iNaturalist app helps to identify the animals and plants you observe—you can easily upload photos directly from your phone. You can also use a laptop to access the app, adding digital photos from your computer. Here is a short video from our friends at the Oregon Coast Aquarium explaining how you can use the app. Using iNaturalist is very straightforward, but if this is your first time using it, please reach out to us with any questions. For this or other information about the special project, contact Jesse Jones, CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, (503) 989-7244,