Snapshot Cal Coast Logo outline of the state of CA with silhouette of animals and photo of intertidal seaweeds & a starfish

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


Help document California's incredible coastal biodiversity!

Snapshot Cal Coast 2022 is June 13th-July 4th!

Snapshot Cal Coast is an annual California statewide community science effort that encourages people to make and share observations of plants, animals, and seaweeds along the California coast using the iNaturalist app. Led by the California Academy of Sciences with support from the California Ocean Protection Council, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the MPA (Marine Protected Area) Collaborative Network, and an array of other partners, we are creating a valuable snapshot in time of where species are located along our coast.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: While observing, please remember the Three Ws, follow all local laws, and respect beach closures. Please note that dates and details are subject to change—subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.


What is Snapshot Cal Coast?

A woman and a man in the tidepools on the CA coast taking photos in of animals on a foggy day

For two weeks every year, we mobilize and organize our amazing partners from Del Norte to San Diego and everywhere in between to make and share observations of as many species as possible to build an annual snapshot of biodiversity along the California coast. By building a community of observers and recorders, we’re providing valuable data for scientists at local, regional, and state levels, and answering targeted research questions in support of California Marine Protected Areas.

Together, we are gathering the data needed to determine species ranges now against which we can measure and monitor changes in the future.


How to get involved

This year, Snapshot Cal Coast will be June 13th-July 4th, 2022!

Getting started is a snap:

  1. Download the iNaturalist app for iPhone or Android
  2. Create an account to start making observations
  3. Join the Snapshot Cal Coast 2022 project (coming soon). 
  4. Head to the coast on your own or with your family or quarantine bubble to make and share observations of plants and animals you see, especially species on our Most-Wanted list
  5. Observe during low tide: Reference this list of California low tides and NOAA's tide table to find exact times for low tides near you
  6. Spread the word! Use hashtag #SnapshotCalCoast on social media

Always remember to follow the tidepooling best practices for your safety and the protection of seaweeds and animals:

  • 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.

Important! Please follow all local laws and respect beach closures, physical distancing, and mask-wearing rules. 



What are we looking for this year?

Juvenile starfish

In addition to documenting as many species as possible from as many places as possible, we are also interested in learning more about a handful of “most-wanted” species and groups. These include introduced species for which we have limited data on their ranges, species whose ranges are affected by changing oceanic conditions and habitat modification, and species that are affected by emerging diseases.


Check out the iNaturalist Guide. It will work on your iPhone or Android in the field!

Native Rocky Intertidal Species 

  1. Anemones 
  2. Abalone
  3. Snails in the genus Nucella
  4. Snails in the genus Tegula
  5. Chitons
  6. Lottia gigantea (Owl Limpet)
  7. Nudibranchs
  8. Strongylocentrtus purpurartus (Pacific Purple Sea Urchin)
  9. Kelps

Non-native Species

  1. Seaweeds
  2. Watersipora Bryozoans
  3. Tunicates
  4. Crabs
  5. Mud Snails
  6. Worms



How we are using these data?


Observations contributed by volunteers, community, and community scientists during Snapshot Cal Coast and year-round via iNaturalist make up an increasingly large proportion of our knowledge of biodiversity over space and time on the California coast. Our team—a collaboration between the California Academy of Sciences, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)—is building the capacity to use these crowdsourced community-contributed observations to understand and monitor biodiversity across California’s coastal and marine protected areas.

Our data science efforts, led by Dr. Giovanni Rapacciuolo, have focused on developing innovative approaches and tools to translate crowdsourced community-contributed observations into meaningful indicators of biodiversity change on the California coast in support of California’s long-term MPA Monitoring Action Plan and the Ocean Protection Council's Strategic Plan. In particular, we are now focusing on mobilizing the community of volunteer naturalists, community, and community scientists to power an Early Warning and Forecasting System for biodiversity change on the California coast. This system will combine crowdsourced community-contributed observations with state-of-the-art ecological models to track key metrics of ocean and coastal health over time (e.g. distribution and abundance of native species, spread of invasive species, emergence of marine disease) and forecast changes in those metrics associated with a changing climate. This effort will provide resource managers with the tools necessary to slow or stop biodiversity loss in California’s coastal and marine habitats and will also empower community scientists to take an active role in conserving biodiversity.

You can find out more about how we are using data contributed by the community during Snapshot Cal Coast and year-round via iNaturalist, as well as explore and interact with our findings, by visiting You can also watch the short talk by Dr. Rapacciuolo below about our data analysis efforts.