Joe MDO Curator

Joined: Oct 12, 2016 Last Active: Dec 07, 2019

I enjoy (understatement) using iNaturalist to document the wild plants, animals, fungi etc. that I find when I am exploring new areas or places I am familiar with (in other words, everywhere :-). Contributing as many observations as possible, including of the same species over and over again, makes it easier for anyone in the area to identify whatever they observe. The database on iNaturalist is an extremely powerful tool for learning! I often use the explore feature to try to find areas within Miami-Dade County with little to no observations to try to "fill in" more of the map.

Birds led me to my obsession with iNat and I hope peppering Miami-Dade County with observations will help anybody who is curious about nature to go out and explore. Even though I've already spent hundreds (thousands?) of hours exploring Miami-Dade County in the past few years, I am still amazed by how often I see something that I had no idea existed (whether I find it myself or somebody else uploads it to iNaturalist). The biodiversity on earth will leave you dumbfounded again and again!

During fall and spring migration I tend to point my camera at birds more often than anything else. If you have a similar "problem," the following article is really worth a read! It's short and sweet and might open your eyes to some more biodiversity that you might have overlooked: http://www.waysofenlichenment.net/public/pdfs/Goward_1994_One_percent_naturalist.pdf
Keep it in mind the next time you're out and about!

I use a DSLR camera with a 300mm lens (with 1.4x teleconverter) for birds, insects and other wildlife. When I'm snorkeling, I bring a point-and-shoot camera, a Ricoh WG-30w camera (shows up on ebay below $150 every once in a while). I also use this camera for macro photography. The images are not super clear but usually not too bad. This camera allows you to get within 1cm of the subject. I have been trying to learn more about blacklighting for moths, beetles and other insects. I am also always on the lookout for tracks and sign.

Trailcam account: https://www.inaturalist.org/people/joemdotrailcam

About me: Born & raised in Miami, Fl. I teach Portuguese & Italian at a high school and commute to work and most places by bicycle.

Trying to make iNat a better tool:
-Remember it's best --not-- to agree with someone's ID if you are not familiar with what you observed and don't have a way to confirm the ID yourself! Sometimes the user that ID's your observation might have made a mistake, so it doesn't make sense to multiply a mistake and push an observation to research grade if you don't have the expertise to identify that particular species. If you were totally off, you can always withdraw your ID so that the identification provided by the other user stands (and it will count as a species for you).

--I make an effort not to photograph any plants/trees that look like they might have been landscaped (even if they may have been planted 50+ years ago, they didn't get there on their own...for example, the lined up oak trees at your local park). I also flag lots of observations as "not wild" since iNaturalist isn't meant to showcase cultivated plants or any pets. Remember to flag any observations you see that aren't wild to help keep the search free of clutter.

--I've also learned to crop my pictures... it makes for a much better experience for those that are trying to ID what you find and need to browse through many observations. It takes a little more time but improves the iNat experience for everyone :-D (sometimes it's good to include an uncropped pic in there too to show the environment or context of the image, though!)

--Spread the word! iNaturalist is still very underrepresented in many parts of the world. Tell your neighbors, tell your friends, tell your family, tell the people you meet when you travel! When you see nature photos on instagram or other social media, let the person know their pics would be a great contribution to iNat!

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