Adding bioblitz data from people who don't/won't use iNaturalist

Two weeks ago I hosted a bioblitz for Cooloola Coastcare Association Inc in the town of Rainbow Beach, QLD in Australia. In our format we had about 15 scientists and approximately 80 citizen scientists that went with our scientist into the field. Last August we only used paper and pencil to gather observations and did well with about 1400 total observations. The problem is none of them had accurate GPS data and only about 40 of them actually had a photo. I made the decision to use iNaturalist for the blitz held on May 17-19, 2019 and created two projects, one as a traditional project so we could see obscured observations and a Collection project for easier reporting. Here is my problem… At the most recent blitz, a number of my older scientists, 70+, insisted on using pencil and paper. I asked for accurate location data on the paper in addition to a media field to capture the images collected by attendees for each observation. None of them have images and about a third have GPS data. Is there a way I can do a bulk upload of all these records and have them show as casual observations so I can integrate them with our existing data, over 500 observations? I know where they went in the National Park so I can get an approximate location for those that don’t have location data but still no photos. If there is no way then I will have to brush off my Excel skills to merge the species counts with the digital stuff. Thanks so much in advance!

Randy Orwin
President, Cooloola Coastcare Association Inc
Data Manager, Cooloola Bioblitzes (5 more to come in the next 3 years)

You can import via csv, just have to make sure it’s formatted correctly for iNat to understand the data:

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Do I take it that the older scientists refused your generous offer to have a photographer-apprentice accompany them?

You can get really good photos for observations while someone is showing you how the hairy underside of a leaf allows you to be sure that a plant is this species and not a different one. Not to mention learning a lot.


Thanks for the heads up about the csv option. I looked at that but wondered if I would be in violation of the TOS by uploading all of those paper records. Thoughts?

Ok, following up here again. I am still wondering if I will be in violation of the TOS if I upload all of the paper records from our bioblitz that don’t have photos and GPS? Or, would it just be better to add them all to the same spreadsheet and just manually process the data and merge it with the iNaturalist data I already have from the bioblitz. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


There is no ToS issue with uploading records with no photos. The lack of gps is a small issue (I dont know how big the area covered by your blitz was in terms of using a single standard location and a buffer). The lack of photo means the records will stay casual as it is.

I personally have thousands of no photo records loaded, although mine have accurate locations. There is nothing in the ToS that requires a photo, nor a gps. Both are preferred and required for research grade status, but not required by any terms of use.

The bigger issue may be under what account you would load it. The site is explictly not a data aggregator, the expectation is for records to be entered under the account of the person who observed them. How were you planning to handle that ?

Therein lies the rub, @cmcheatle. I didn’t do the observations. They were all made by scientists who helped out with the bioblitz that have no interest in interacting with the technology. Very traditional pencil and paper folks, mostly long retired. This is the reason I might have to export the iNat data and merge it into a spreadsheet and manually crunch the numbers after cleaning up the species names etc… Thanks for the input! As far as GPS locations, I can probably get it down to within a couple of kilometers.

For our bioblitz we created a bioblitz account and added all of those observations without photos. You can map them with an uncertainty circle big enough to cover any area that organism may have been. It’s not ideal but it works.


Thanks @charlie. I do have an account for the organization so I might add those paper records with that account. It will sure make it easier than trying to manage it all in a spreadsheet.

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One small thing to be aware of, if anything auto-obscures, and if your bioblitz area is small, the auto obscured observations may kick out of the bioblitz area enough that they don’t display in your species list. There are work-arounds but none of them work great: for instance, adding those to a separate project and using an umbrella project to track both…

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