ROV Images for iNat

I was wondering if anyone saw any interest with ocean exploration teams with using iNat as a repository for images of marine life off of their livestreams. I know there are a lot of recorded livestreams with hours of footage and a good time could be had grabbing screenshots and posting them to iNat. The main issue seems to be copyright and I’m sure the images have scientific value that many scientists want to keep to themselves for publications. However on some of the streams there are simply lots of individuals of say “Darwin’s Roughy” that could maybe be of use for iNat. Same with a lot of poorly represented groups like mollusks and other invertebrates. you could get more expert eyes on this footage without having the expert sit through 8 hours of video each dive.

Just a thought.

I think, with some allowances for your own trail cams, observations are intended to be something you observed yourself.

Still, I could see where ROV footage owners might appreciate a generous offer of some help with ID confirmations. I would imagine best practice is to set that up individually between you and the footage owner.


There’s been similar questions about Google Maps, though this seems like it would produce a much better yield. I think the main problem with it is that it’s meant to reflect what you, yourself, saw. People bend those rules a lot anyways but once the copyright thing comes into play, I feel like that’s too much of a double-whammy for most people.

I think it would definitely be taken down if put up, same with Google Maps or Google Earth. Do I agree with that? Kinda. But kinda not. It’s a weird thing but I know iNat wouldn’t be happy with it unless you have been granted permission directly. Even then people might be a little unsure.


The difficulty, as other have alluded to, is that the research team isn’t necessarily the owner of the data. This is true throughout the branches of science; ownership of data is separate from collection, analysis, and publication of results based on data.

Just noting that unless you’re the owner of a camera, you shouldn’t post screenshots from a remote camera:

Photos attached to observations should include evidence of the actual organism at the time of the observation, observed by the user who is uploading the observation. Photos used in your iNaturalist observations should represent your own experiences, not just examples of something similar to what you saw. Please do not upload photos you found elsewhere, such as online or in a book, since they don’t represent your own experiences and are probably a violation of copyright law. Similarly, please do not upload screenshots from broadcasts of live cameras unless you are the owner of the live camera.

I think SciStarter (and maybe other platforms?) are better for this, eg


Yes, copyright and ownership is the huge obstacle. There are people like me who would love to go through footage and grab images of cool marine organisms and see if they can be identified, but the images would probably be removed anyway or someone would place a flag on them. Plus someone going through footage doesn’t know if the images represent a new species or a new record that a scientist wants to keep to themselves.

I think if you got the permissions, I would have to make an account linked to the ROV owners and certainly NOT my own account, and this is something that they might want undergraduate volunteers or researchers to do. Certainly this might be a job that “normal” people want to be paid to do!

A similar issue about “observations should be your own experience” comes from collection data in museums, or even just a shell collection you bought that isn’t your own finds. The data is useful, but if the shells weren’t collected by me, are they acceptable for me to upload?

Previous posts on shell collections.
If you don’t know where or when they were collected - not suitable for iNat.

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