Difficulty identifying species in Seek

Please fill out the following sections to the best of your ability, it will help us investigate bugs if we have this information at the outset. Screenshots are especially helpful, so please provide those if you can.

Platform (Android, iOS, Website):
App version number, if a mobile app issue (shown under Settings or About):
2.15.0 (310)

Description of problem (please provide a set of steps we can use to replicate the issue, and make as many as you need.):

Step 1: It seems iSeek has recently started having trouble identifying species and will hop back and forth between broad categories but never settle on species evenness it has identified in the past. This seems to have started about 2 or 3 months ago. I never really paid a lot of attention thinking it was probably a connection problem or something. However this has been consistent for a while now. Makes using the app quite frustrating. This is happening on both my wife and my phones so it isn’t just one iPhone. Mine is an XR and hers is a 12 plus.

Any ideas and is anyone else noticing?


I updated your title to specify that you are asking about Seek and included the Seek tag to help folks find this in searches.


it might be helpful to include examples of what you’re looking at. it could be that not being able to settle on a species is actually the right thing. for example, maybe in the past, the app knew only about one species of white mushroom, but now it knows about 100 species that look more or less the same from some angles. so in the past, maybe it would tell you any white mushroom was the mushroom it knew about, whereas nowadays, none of the 100 species it knows about jump out as the clear match.


Seeks model - aka the taxa that it can identify and the images used to train that model - hasn’t change in years. There have been some updates to the Seek camera in 2.15. I don’t think that should affect its ability to identify anything, although you never know.

A screen recording and specific examples would be the only way to really diagnose this. If you don’t want to share a screen recording publicly you can email it to us at help@inaturalist.org.

Usually these issues are because the diagnostic features Seek uses to ID to species (eg flowers or fruit of a plant) are not visible in the image it’s using to ID from.

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Thanks. I will try to get a screen grab. Since it is not throwing any kind of error, not sure how much info can be gleaned from this but will try next time I’m out. Yesterday I pointed it at common milkweed and it said it couldn’t identify the photo. Not sure what’s going on. Maybe I can delete the app and reinstall it. For several years it has performed flawlessly and the ones it could not identify were kind of sketchy examples or really unusual plants or insects and quite understandable. Recently, it just seems to be having difficulty providing an ID on really common stuff. I’ll try to get a screen shot next day I’m out in the field. I’ll try to delete and reinstall first though.


If you do, you’ll lose all of your observations, so keep that in mind.

OK, here is a screen shot. Obviously a white tail deer. iSeek said it could not identify.

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Thanks! Would you be able to post the original photo here or send to help@inaturalist.org? I’d be interested to try it out. Have you tried cropping so just the head of the animal is in the shot?

been out of town. I will send the original photo to your email address. I can probably find others too.
Jeff S.

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the photo should be in your inbox by now. Hope this helps.

Thanks. First off, that photo is pretty great - so sharp and awesome light!

I was able to get suggestions for both the full image and an image where I cropped it to just the head and neck of the deer.



I suspect that genus is probably about as good as Seek will get for that deer pic, just because the diagnostic features aren’t there (although I know very little about deer). I’m not sure why you weren’t able to get any ID at all for that photo.

Do you have an iNat account and are you logged in to that account in Seek. If so, when this happens again can you please send a log file from Seek? To do that, go to the About screen in Seek and tap on the version number.

Thanks Tony.
Yes, I’m Jeff_sluder at iNat. I stay logged in when using iSeek.

Strange indeed. I picked a deer because they are so common. I didn’t want to try and use some rare plant that only grows on the south facing slope of one mountain in West Virginia or something. We were in SW Illinois this week and it seemed to be pretty reliable. I could not identify a few but they were oddball plants that grow in the swamps down there. Light in the cypress swamps was horrible so I cannot say if the app was able to ID or not. Hard to tell on strange plants in deep darkness of a cypress swamp. It did accurately identify a photo I took of a cottonmouth snake.

Thanks for the compliment on the photo. My wife and I do a lot of photography. The little buck here has a mirror twin. This one has one normal size right antler and one short left. His brother has a normal size left antler and a short right side. They were born last spring (spring 2022) as far as I can tell. They live on a wildlife preserve (Fernald Preserve) in SouthWest Ohio.

If it happens again, I will try to submit the log files.