Photos disappeared from Research Grade observation

Android and Website

App version 1.19.4 (426)


Finally got an ID on my first ever iNat observation but it didn’t last long. When I was checking yesterday to see whether anything had changed regarding IDs and whatnot I noticed this was showing as Casual. I opened it and photos were gone. The running gag that is my bumblebee project continues apace.

I still have the original photographs. Do I just repost them?

Sorry you’re having this problem. I’m looking into it right now and I have a couple questions.

  • Do you know roughly how many photos the observation had?
  • Is this by any chance one of them
  • Is it possible they went missing on July 16 - within a day of the latest comments on that observation?
  • Your report says both Android and the website. It looks like the observation was created via the website. Can you explain how you’ve interacted with it via the Android app? Did you view notifications on the Android app or modify the observation at all via the app?

It might be best to hold off re-uploading the photos for a little bit while we look into the problem. If the photo URL I posted above is for this observation we might be able to restore them for you. Thanks for the report - we’ll try and get to the bottom of what happened.


Possibly related to


@pleary Thanks for your help.

Probably 5 or 6 images.

That is one of them.

The images were still present at the time of the last exchange of comments. It is possible they disappeared any time after that.

I use the Android app to comment as well as to make observations, although I did neither when I started with iNat and the Red-belted bumblebee was my first ever observation so would have been done on the website. Some of the commenting would have been on the phone app and I would definitely have viewed notifications on my phone. Other than commenting I would have made no modifications to the observation using the app (or the website as far as I recall).

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Thanks for that extra info. Do you recall uploading photos to this observation via the Android app ? If so, do you recall viewing the observation with missing photos in the app around that time? Can you explain your process around uploading those Plume moth photos? The timing lines up so I’m curious if there is any correlation between you uploading the moth photos and the bee photos disappearing.

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This twigs a memory of an odd occurence on my phone. I loaded observations from something unrelated to bees.

When I’m loading photos into an observation using the app I usually load all of the photos I have and cull them from within the observation to save time. The plume moth observations involved large numbers of photographs because they are so hard to capture using a phone - most images are poor - so it is possible it was plum moths. Anyway, when the images uploaded there were bee images mixed in and some of the moth images (or whatever) didn’t load.

I deleted the bee images from that observation. Around the same time the images on my icons became garbled with the wrong species being displayed. I logged off the app, restarted it and everything seemed to reset.

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OK sounds like we’re getting closer to the issue. I don’t completely follow so I have a couple more questions. Thanks for bearing with me.

It sounds like you were creating a new observation and choosing pictures from your camera roll to attach to it. Then during that process some bee photos showed up. Is it possible you selected the bee photos from your camera roll, or did they randomly show up unexpectedly?

Can you explain this a little more? Which icons became garbled? The ones for the photos you were attaching to this observation, of icons on another screen?

Did you upload the observation (or sync) before you logged off the app? Do you recall when in this process the observation was uploaded?

Additionally - can you please send us log files from the app? That will give us some insight into what it’s doing. To send log files, go to the Settings tab in the app and tap three times on the version number. You will then have the option to email the log files to us.

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DISCLAIMER: I’m a tad long in the tooth so declarative statements about things that happened before lunch today may contain some noise mixed in with the signal.


If they were selected it was through some arcane phenomenon. There are many, many images between those bee images and my more recent stuff. I would call it random and it was unexpected.

Sorry for the leap in logic there. The icons for the entries in my Observations menu. For example, a bee entry might have been showing a fern and a fern entry might have shown a butterfly.

I don’t recall the exact sequence of events, although the icon problem came after the misplaced bee images. I check for syncing problems regularly because I live in a village with connectivity issues. I would not have logged off without checking that processes were done - although that may not have been displaying properly as part of whatever was going on with the icons, I suppose.

The observation was uploaded before the icons got confused.


Should be on their way. The logs are retained for 3 days.

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Thanks for sending the logs. Unfortunately they were too new and didn’t include logs for this situation. When you top the version number to send the logs do you see something saying Send debug logs from start date? If so could you please choose July 15 as the start date and send them again? Thanks

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They should be in your inbox. Debug logs appear to begin on the 19th. I selected 14th and 15th as start dates.

When an image is uploaded is it assigned a file name that attached to the observation or does it retain the the name assigned to it before uploading? If an image were assigned more than one observation would it be given unique names for each observation or would there be a single file referenced twice?

Should I reload the images now or do I still need to wait?

Sorry - no need to wait anymore. If you can re-upload the photos that would be the easiest and fastest way to restore them.

Unfortunately the second set of logs still were too new to contain information about this event so we’ll have to work with what we have. If you ever see anything like this again - photos showing on an observation unexpectedly when you did not set them there - I recommend reporting the bug to us as soon as you can and sending the app logs as well. I also recommend not deleting the photos since we know that can cause them to be deleted from the proper observation. Might be best to log out and log back in and see how things look.

If you manually upload a photo to more than one observation separately, I believe they will go into the database as two separate photos with no link between them. But there is a way to have two observations reference the same photo in the database by duplicating an observation. People sometimes do this when uploading a photo that contains two different species.


I wonder if a duplicate was created somehow when the bee photos appeared in the plume moth (or whatever) observation and (as you noted) when I deleted them from the plume moth (o.w.) observation they disappeared from the bee observation as well.

Maybe something similar is happening, but that’s not exactly what happened in this case. To get a little technical, in the database we store the photo record, the observation record, and a separate record to link the photo to the observation. What you ended up deleting was the link between the photos and your older bee observation - there was never a link between the bee photos and the new moth observation. The system then deleted the photo record at a later date because it was no longer linked to any observations.

The bug seems to be that you saw the bee photos on the moth observation and that the app made it look like you were removing the bee photos from the moth observation when in reality it removed them from the bee observation. Again if you see anything like this again, or if anyone else experiences this, please let us know and ideally send us the app logs.


Will do. Tech is good. It helps to understand what’s going on and I was one of those kids who got wheeled into an operating room for a broken leg and was pestering the medical staff to explain the equipment until they put me under just to get some peace. I’m a little out of date (I still have one DOS computer running old FoxPro code) but I get databases in general.

lol… I did the same thing when I had radiation therapy, and got to sit in with the technician when he was doing calibrations on the machine… probably took twice as long as it would normally!

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