An event last year interested me to create this thread…
One morning when I logged into iNat, I saw that someone from Texas, whose observations I had been following, was currently on a trip in the Florida Keys. I’ll keep the name hidden as I don’t know if the person would appreciate this or not. “That’s cool”, I thought. The next day, life’s coincidences brought me to the same exact resort the person was staying at. While there, I spotted the person, walked over, had a really brief, awkward conversation (while trying not to appear like a stalker)
So, do you have any stories of running into another iNat user somewhat accidentally?
I went on a few wildflower walks at work and discovered some of my coworkers were iNatters.
I also IDed some observations for coworkers I’ve never met, when we all observed the same organism (eg. submit my observation of a fungi in the parking lot, see a bunch of others in the reel of Nearby at the bottom of my observation page, look at the user names and realize that’s the person I’ve called/instant messaged/emailed before).
Last fall the local conservation district was having this interesting event at a site where they had a whole bunch of different naturalists leading walks covering essentially everything about the site. Walks covered things like: land changes over time, plants, restoration plans for the site, birds & pollinators (that was mine), and a few others. When I was talking to one of the walk leaders, it turned out he was the top identifier of a group of plants.
I live in the most active area for iNat users in New Mexico. Other than the people I knew before I joined, I haven’t run into any active users in person in the field yet. One of these days, I’ll bump into @jnstuart or @ellen5 while I’m chasing a butterfly. Of course, we could plan something …
I’ve run into a lot of inatters “in the wild”, and it’s always fun! I often wear my iNat t-shirt when I’m out and about, and if I see other people taking photos I usually prosthelytize a bit for iNat, so it comes up fairly often. Usually it’s not a username I recognize, but they usually know mine since I do a ton of identifications in my local area.
One time I was crawling around under some bushes looking at slime molds and ended up coming face to face with someone doing the exact same thing from the other side of the bush. After a brief mutual startlement and some introductions, she turned to shout to her friends further down the trail that she’d found “Graysquirrel from iNat!” Apparently, I am famous, haha.
A couple of days ago my partner and I were returning from our daily neighborhood walk, and I saw some people peering at leaves on the olive trees along our street. I asked them what they were looking at, and they said they were doing biocontrol efforts for an olive pest that had been seen in the area - it turned out to have been my inat observation that led them to it!
EDIT: Another one I almost forgot, not quite an actual encounter but still pretty funny.
I photographed a somewhat uncommon-for-the-area orchid that was growing right on the edge of the trail in the park I was volunteering at. When I went to upload it I noticed someone else had observed that exact plant within an hour of me. I clicked their profile and the picture looked oddly familiar - after a few minutes I realized the observer was a former boss of mine from a job I’d had over a decade ago, in a non-biology-related field, 2 counties away. I had no idea he even had the slightest interest in nature, much less an iNat account, and there we were looking at the same flower within an hour of each other on some random hiking trail.
Grand Canyon. North Rim. I was shooting some galls in some bushes just outside the lodge entrance. A woman came up to me and asked if I wanted help identifying the plants I was looking at. She used to use iNaturalist a lot, but then her daughter introduced her to Seek, which she finds “even better”. Hmmm…for the next hour, we kept running into each other on the rim trail, shooting plants and whatever else stayed still enough for our cameras.
It would be fun to meet iNatters but the only ones I’ve met are ones I’ve PMed beforehand about an observation and then met them later. One of them is part of our park surveys now and we met on here, and another was hesitant to do iNat but is now hooked and has a DLSR now for insects.
I think I’ve talked to people who have heard of iNat, but never someone who approached me and recognized what I was doing. I do think it would be fun to meet a group of hikers and naturalists in the area. It’s not easy to make new friends. It’s a good ice breaker and a shared interest immediately and doesn’t force awkward conversation. You can just get down to looking for things and let things flow naturally. I keep my eye out for people but not much luck.
I think the ultimate thing would be driving somewhere and coming across another human with a moth sheet. I have seen it only in SE AZ. It would be very hard not to stop, but I know the anxiety of having a sheet setup myself and seeing a car pull over. Humans are more intimidating for “weird hobbies” than any animal.
Last year I attended a fern workshop in a different part of my state. Nearly everyone was an iNatter. It was great to meet so many people whom I recognized by username. One of the people works near me and we have chatted via email about difficult indentations, but it was the first time we met in person. That was a real highlight of the workshop.
This fall I went to the California Naturalist conference and ran into several iNatters that I had seen observations from but never met. A couple of times during outdoor talks I ended up trying to take pictures of the same pollinators coming to the flowers around the patio area as some other iNat user.
I work in a DOC National Park Visitor Centre. People very often come in wondering what something is, or wondering about why something is, that they noticed. Thats something I love about my job, being able to positively respond to peoples curiosity, and encourage them to do more with what ever piques thier interest.
Usually several times a day I asked people if they know inat, and show them a demo of it. Most of the time people don’t know of it. But seem very interested, so hopefully that leads to some converts.
But occasionally people have heard of it, and then it turns out they are the person I see doing all the X group identifications. Or curating, admining etc. Which is how I met meurkc for example.
There has been a couple times where I have done adhoc interp in the field asking randoms if they spotted (For example small flowering corybas orchids), and found someone who hadn’t but was really into orchids and wanting to know more, and ended up converting them and seeing them posting to the site later.
I have talked maybe a couple times in the field to people who use it, but much more casual users.