This App is a ‘Shazam’ for Nature

If you ask any trained ecologist, they will tell you that it can take a lifetime to master identifying species whilst outdoors. But if you’re not willing to spend years memorising which grass is which, then this handy new app could be the answer to all your problems.

Available for iPhone and Android, Seek uses unique image recognition technology to determine what plant or animal lives within each image. You can either take the image right away in-app, or use previous images tucked away in your library. Currently recognising around 30,000 individual species, Seek’s AI can let you know what you’re looking at within seconds. The best part is – the more photographers uploading photos, the more species the system learns, getting better at recognition across the world.

As soon as the plant or animal is revealed, Seek adds it to your own list of ‘observations’, where all your discoveries are collected in one place. To motivate users, Seek offers a number of different challenges for users to complete, such as the ‘Biodiversity Challenge’, where you must head to a local wildlife hotspot and seek out a variety of species. Upon completion, you earn achievements and awards.

The app is an innovation of iNaturalist, a joint initiative by California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. iNaturalist is a social network for nature lovers, where each capture on their identification apps helps scientists examine biodiversity information across the world. Your findings are shared with organisations like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, helping assist key conservation efforts. So not only are you having a great time photographing nature, but you’re helping protect it too!

If you wish, you can allow the app to trace your location, which then shows you the common plants and animals in your area.

“Drawing from millions of wildlife observations on iNaturalist, Seek shows you lists of commonly recorded insects, birds, plants, amphibians, and more in your area,” state Seek’s creators. “Scan the environment with the Seek Camera to identify organisms using the tree of life.”

For more, visit iNaturalist’s website.

Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.

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