Logo and Awesome Starfish

Pisaster ochraceus and tidepool diversity. Pillar Point, San Mateo County, CA


Dust off your rubber boots. Dig out your Chacos or Tevas. Grab a tide table and a friend. Get your cameras and smartphones ready!

Over the week of June13th-20th, we need you to get out the coast, search for as many plants and animals as you can find, and share photos of your discoveries on the website and app iNaturalist. The California Academy of Sciences leads Snapshot Cal Coast with support from the Marine Protected Area Collaborative Network and partners up and down the state.

Snapshot Cal Coast is a California statewide effort to document our coastal biodiversity and hold a series of bioblitzes up and down the California Coast, focusing on intertidal zones in marine protected areas (MPAs). We will be working together with the MPA Collaborative Network and other partners to create a "snapshot" in time of where species are located along our coast.


How to get involved


There are many ways to get involved with Snapshot Cal Coast 2018:

  1. Learn more about iNaturalist and how to Get Started with an account and make observations.
  2. Head out on the coast on your own (or with friends and family) during the Snapshot window of June 13 -June 20. Make and share the observations of the plants and animals you see, especially things on our most wanted list and in Marine Protected Areas. Check out the NOAA tide table to find out when the low tide will be near you. 
  3. Would you like to gather people to make observations? Contact us about organizing your own event.
  4. Spread the word! Use our hashtag on social media #SnapshotCalCoast.




What is a bioblitz?

Photo taking on beach

Bioblitzes bring people together to document biodiversity in one place at one time, recording observations of plants and animals using smartphones or digital cameras and uploading results to the biodiversity recording and social networking platform iNaturalist (www.inaturalist.org). These events connect people of all backgrounds to the outdoors, inspire everyone to protect biodiversity, and at the same time generate invaluable data.

Working together, we can learn a lot more about our coast. We are off to a pretty good start here in the Golden State-- click here to explore all of the observations made with iNaturalist along the entire California coast over the past ten years. Getting a yearly coast-wide snapshot of California Coastal biodiversity helps us better understand fluctuations in species ranges and helps our partners better manage the coastal areas they are responsible for!

Here are a few examples of fun and successful bioblitzes:

Pillar Point Reef and Bluff BioBlitz

Green Hairstreak Butterfly BioBlitz

Lake Merritt BioBlitz


Why bioblitz?

Sea amemones

This yearly series of coastal bioblitzes and individual observations will:

  • Gather data critical to understanding and managing marine species.
  • Build awareness of the biodiversity of the California coast and the MPA Collaborative Network.
  • Bring together local community in support of marine stewardship.
  • Recruit new volunteers.
  • Be really fun.

Together we will increase knowledge of California’s ocean and coastal habitats and their wildlife populations. We will foster collaborations among state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and tribes, and engage a broad range of California’s communities in activities that promote coastal conservation and connect us to nature and each other. This series of events will also work to build and expand our community of citizen scientists and stewards who can collectively advance scientific research and protection of California’s marine resources. The resulting data are invaluable to managers and scientists for determining long-term trends.


What are we looking for?

Juvenile starfish

Our goal is to document as many species as possible, from as many places as possible. We are, though, specifically interested in a handful of species and groups. These taxa are things that are affected by emerging diseases, introduced species, species with limited data on their ranges, or species whose ranges are affected by changing oceanic conditions and habitat modification.

Always remember to take care in the tidepools for your safety and the protection of 'local residents'.

  • Never remove any animals or seaweeds.
  • Take care to step on bare rock wherever possible.
  • Never move animals from place to place.
  • Never 'roll' rocks. 

We have put together a list of ‘most wanted list’ based on our own questions, and in consultation with others in the scientific community, the California Ocean Science Trust, California Coastal Conservancy, and California Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Click on each species name to see the existing observations of each species in California on iNaturalist.

Snapshot Cal Coast Most Wanted Species



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Our bioblitzes are powered by iNaturalist, our in-house, citizen science platform. It's a community-powered website and app that makes it easy to upload and share your observations in the field and to get help from other users with flora and fauna IDs.