Reporting pollution /Non-species

Hello, I was wondering if it possible to upload Observations that indicate pollution or non-species?

iNat is for encounters with living organisms… unless you are capturing the effect on an organism it would be no.

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It can be a casual observation with mark on “signs of organism = no”.

What would be the point, though? Wouldn’t it be better to contact the local authorities?


I’m an environmental scientist/consultant (for 32 years!). Yes, report pollution to your state or local environmental regulatory authority or fire department. There are usually hotlines to call. Examples would be evidence of a spill of hazardous material (e.g. weird-colored or chemical-smelling liquid on the ground or surface water) or abandoned containers and drums, especially if they’re leaking.

Most contaminated sites are well known to regulatory agencies. You can find them on their websites. I work mainly on the West Coast. Here are some sources to find contaminated or otherwise regulated sites:

California (GeoTracker and Envirostor):


Actially, they could ID the litter as human.

I think a bunch of students had a project like that here once, and that’s what most people did. Though I believe a few people also referred them to Litterati as a better fitting platform:

Though if you do use iNat, @evgeny_geyfman, it would be best if you both give them an initial ID of “Human” on upload, and explain that it’s for tracking litter in the description, because otherwise people can get a bit put out at a flood of observations of trash.

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Ok, I’ll be a bit clearer… You can upload anything as an observation, but many things you shouldn’t… Eg I can upload a recording of a band playing at the local pub and mark it “organism present = no” or “human”… The question was "can an observation be uploaded and indicated as pollution or non-species".… No it can’t. iNat observations are indicated as taxa, there is no ability to ID as pollution or even “non-life”. Yes, you can mark with fields etc in a way that makes the observation relevant to you or your group, but be aware that it would be “off-label” use of the platform. Even observations of actual humans are considered “off-label” usage and are discouraged, so I am pretty certain it will be the case with pollution!

[edit: my apologies to Marina, my comments here were on the assumption that she was countering my response, which she was not. It stands as a general clarification to my response though.]


That’s a fair point. I do have an observation of a live crawfish hiding in a soda can that I found when picking up litter in a waterway. :)

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You might be interested in Jellywatch, which has a category for plastic found on beaches, as well as jellies and other marine life forms.


What this comment is about? I answered the post “Observations that indicate pollution or non-species”, maybe you mean indicate=sign on the observation, I read it other way and answered the topicstarter and don’t think my comment had to do something with yours.

If you were to photograph an organism has been damaged or killed by pollution it would be accepted. A comment could be added. Non living things (besides Identifiable fossils) are not acceptable. Fossils are a trace of an organism that one was alive.

Apologies, I thought your comment was a counter to mine!

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