Record international waters


I was extremely happy to have been able to see at least 2 recordable albatrosses from a Japanese ferry between Tokyo and the Tokyo islands. (I have only begun today with uploading stuff of this day)
This ship crosses international waters and so the record gets lost for Japan.
I understand that strict borders are useful, but is it not also useful to link sea-records to the nearest country when possible?

Of course that will sometimes cause an international scene, but usually, it does not, I would imagine.
For the record: Japan is one of the popular spots for albatrosses, yet the Japan-records at inaturalist registered only 1 albatross observation (within JP territory waters).

Maybe some of you know the answer.

hope to hear it, too

Ge rben

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One reason I can think of is that iNat records are often very useful for state-controlled conservation & management purposes, and in such a case, it would be detrimental to incorrectly include a record in a country’s administrative territory.


thanks @ajamalabad. Sure that is probably one of the main reasons. But I can imagine there is a work around possible. After all science is not the main reason lay people use this website I suspect.
It is a shame that in these few instances records go unnoticed for the people interested in Japanese birds.
I am not suggesting to skip national borders as a determiner, I am merely asking whether it would be thinkable to find a workaround that suits both purposes.

Gerb en

Oceans just don’t have places for them yet, so country places are set on land only, which is source of some problems, but some day hopefully those will we solved.

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In some cases, places do exist for offshore waters like this.

For example, there is a place specifically for Australian-owned waters, called
‘Australia Exclusive Economic Zone’:

However, due to the large size of places like this and the big strain they put on iNat, only staff can create them. I think you’d need a fairly compelling argument (more than just wanting to have a few rare bird records included somewhere, as much as that is important to you individually [which I can sympathise with]) for the creation of a similar place. I cannot be 100% certain, but I think for the Australian case, the offshore waters place was created to help collect records for the Australasian Fishes Project, which currently has almost 130,000 observations and is the biggest/most successful project in Australia (the place was created ~2 months after the project was created).


But I suspect these are Australian territorial waters? The strange thing in Japan is that these Tokyo islands lie well within international waters territory, with I think it is a 2 nautical mile (orso) Japanese territorial waters buffer around them.*
Of course I have my own (not exclusively rare) records in mind but also the many seabirds that may be observed from the many ferries around Japan, some of which sail outside of Japanese Territorial Waters for some part of the journey at least.

*oops…this is only partially true at best, I see now. My apologies. Most seaways to JP islands are National territory, there are some pockets of IWaters inside JPTWaters.

@carrieseltzer has been adding EEZs for all network countries, but it’s neither easy nor quick to do, you can read more of her explanation here.
It may also be worth keeping in mind that while the world’s EEZs don’t even begin to cover the majority of the ocean surface area, they do cover the vast majority of iNat’s observations, i.e. very few observations are made in truly international waters.


thanks for that insight in inat-development @jwidness. Reading this it has been a monster task already to even cut out so to speak every piece of island to link it to a country (as has happened with all the Tokyo islands)
Linking the EEZ-zone of X to country X I imagine is then an even huger task, but it would help tie a large collection of now ‘lost’ records to a country db.

For now I will refer to my few international waters records (as comment in other seabird records of the same day) to draw attention from other Japan oriented Inatting birders.

thanks all for your quick replies

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Well, this would explain why I was unable to “explore” the Sargasso Sea.

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