iNaturalist user identifies seaweed in Half Moon Bay, CA.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 26, 2023) — This summer, California families have a perfect excuse to connect with nature and explore the beach, all while contributing to biodiversity science and conservation. Through July 9, annual community science effort Snapshot Cal Coast returns for its eighth year of documenting the wondrous biodiversity along the California coast. This statewide bioblitz aims to explore and document nature in and beyond the state’s 124 marine protected areas by providing a crucial “snapshot in time” of the entire coastline. The multi-city event is part of the Academy’s Thriving California initiative to stop biodiversity loss and advocate for nature in the Golden State, calling on community scientists of all ages to make and share observations of the wildlife along our iconic—and ever-changing—coast.

“This year, we’re specifically targeting areas that are projected to be most impacted by climate change,” says Academy Co-Director of Community Science Rebecca Johnson. “The data we collect during Snapshot Cal Coast are used for the Early Warning and Forecasting System of Biodiversity Changes—a tool we’re building in collaboration with the California Ocean Protection Council to track coastal health—and will help inform critical conservation decisions and protect the biodiversity within these sensitive areas.”

Snapshot Cal Coast will include a series of bioblitz events where volunteers record plant, seaweed, and animal sightings using the free mobile app iNaturalist. Strike out on your own, join one of the Academy’s Bay Area bioblitzes, or find an event in your favorite coastal spot.

For both budding and veteran community scientists, participating is a snap:

  1. Download the free iNaturalist app to your mobile device. Find a local beach, tidepool, or coastal trail that you can access legally and safely.
  2. Take photos to make observations of wild plants, seaweeds, and animals along California’s coast. You can use your phone and the iNaturalist app, or you can use a camera and upload the photos to the iNaturalist website. All observations made between June 17 and July 9 are valid.
  3. Learn more as the iNaturalist community helps identify your observations.

The goal of Snapshot Cal Coast is to learn as much as possible about all coastal animals, plants, and seaweeds, but volunteers are encouraged to pay extra attention to the following “most-wanted” species that are affected by emerging diseases, changing ocean conditions, and other introduced species:

Native species

Non-native species

Members of the public visiting the coast during Snapshot Cal Coast are asked to observe the following tidepool etiquette:

  1. Observe things where you find them. Never remove animals, rocks, shells, seaweeds, or plants from the tidepools.
  2. Walk gently, taking care to avoid stepping on animals or seaweeds.
  3. Do not “roll” rocks. Animals living on the underside of rocks can only survive there.
  4. Be aware of the wildlife around you and try to minimize disturbances.
  5. Be careful! Tidepools and rocky shorelines are slippery, and tides and waves can catch you off guard. Never turn your back on the ocean.

Snapshot Cal Coast is led and coordinated by the California Academy of Sciences, with help from the MPA (Marine Protected Area) Collaborative Network, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and with funding provided by the California Ocean Protection Council. For more information about Snapshot Cal Coast, visit the Academy’s website and view observations here.

When: June 17 - July 9, 2023

Bay Area Events

Organizing and participating partners

  • California Academy of Sciences
  • California Ocean Protection Council
  • California Marine Protected Area Collaborative Network
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • California State Parks
  • Cabrillo College
  • Carpinteria State Beach
  • Catalina Island Conservancy
  • City of Dana Point
  • Crystal Cove State Park
  • Coronado Public Library (San Diego, CA)
  • Fort Ross Conservancy
  • Half Moon Bay State Beach
  • Hopkins Marine Lab, Stanford
  • Leo Carillo State Beach
  • Los Angeles County Natural History Museum
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center
  • Natural Bridges State Beach
  • Morro Bay National Estuary Program
  • Noyo Center for Marine Science
  • Ocean Sanctuaries
  • Pacific Grove Natural History Museum
  • Rotary Nature Center Friends (Oakland, CA)
  • Redwood National and State Parks
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Mateo County Parks
  • Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
  • Save Our Shores
  • Seymour Marine Discovery Center
  • State Parks: North Coast Redwoods District
  • State Parks: San Luis Obispo Coast
  • Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods
  • Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation
  • Trinidad Coastal Land Trust
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • University of Southern California Sea Grant
  • Wholly H2O
About Research at the California Academy of Sciences

The Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences is at the forefront of efforts to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco, the Institute is home to more than 100 world-class scientists, state-of-the-art facilities, and nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world. The Institute also leverages the expertise and efforts of more than 100 international Associates and 450 distinguished Fellows. Through expeditions around the globe, investigations in the lab, and analysis of vast biological datasets, the Institute’s scientists work to understand the evolution and interconnectedness of organisms and ecosystems, the threats they face around the world, and the most effective strategies for ensuring they thrive into the future. Through deeply collaborative partnerships and innovative public engagement initiatives, they also guide critical conservation decisions worldwide, inspire and mentor the next generation of scientists, and foster responsible stewardship of our planet.

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