Red Gorgonian and White Medridia Anemones on the Yukon

Photo Credit: Michael Bear

Welcome to Ocean Sanctuaries’  Yukon Marine Life Survey: an opportunity for divers to contribute photos documenting the marine life on the Yukon. This is a long-term study designed as a follow-up to the one done in 2004 by San Diego Oceans Foundations under the Artificial Reef Monitoring Projects (ARMP). 1

The 366 ft. long Canadian warship Yukon was purchased, cleaned and sunk by the City of San Diego and the San Diego Oceans Foundation in July of 2000 to serve as a pioneering artificial reef  which would attract both tourists and marine life–and, in that regard, it has been spectacularly successful.

For more information, see here:

Q: What are we looking for?

A: We are looking for high definition, close-up [macro] photographs of the marine life present on the Yukon, both vertebrates or invertebrates. 

 Just do your dive as you normally would and photograph  any vertebrate or invertebrate marine life as you come across it  and submit your photographs here on the iNat link given below, after creating an iNaturalist account. You may want to read the introduction to iNaturalist called ‘Getting Started’ below. 


Note: you do not need to be able to identify the species you are submitting a photograph for: if you do not know the ID, submit the photo to us anyway and we will have the  experts at iNaturalist look at it and try and get it identified. Eventually, we hope to get a marine life photo ID section set up here to assist you in becoming more familiar with local species.


Remember: the Yukon is considered an advanced dive.  Therefore, before diving on the Yukon, please make sure you have the proper training and certification.  Under no circumstances should any diver should exceed the limits of their highest SCUBA certification.

All photographs for this project can be taken externally–no ship penetration is required. 


Using iNaturalist to record marine species on the Yukon:

Note: as of April 1, 2017, Ocean Sanctuaries is pleased to offer iNaturalist as our marine species database for this project. iNaturalist is run by the California Academy of Sciences, has an excellent marine species database in place and provides expert scientific and lay assistance to help ID marine species.  There is also an iNaturalist app offered for both iPhones and Androids.

For a basic overview on how iNaturalist works, please start here–there are some excellent step-by-step instructional videos:


1.  Go to and create a personal account with a user name and password.

2. While logged into iNaturalist, go here:

and click on the large orange tab which says Add Observations

Upload your species photo and

Answer the following questions:

–What did you see? Just start typing a species or name under ‘Species’–you’ll be surprised at how many species iNaturalist knows! If you are not sure of the species, you can ask for help in the Comments/Need ID section. –When did you see it? Date and time of day from your dive computer

–Where were you? Please use the following Decimal Degrees in every Yukon observation in iNat, under Location/Map (the ship never moves!):


Also, if you remember what part of the ship you were on when you took the photograph, you can add this under Comments.



There is a section on the bottom of the page where you can add tags and more data fields if you feel the need to do so.

Finally, when everything looks good, hit the button which says either Save Observation or Save Observation and Add Another if you have more than one.

–That’s it–you’re done! 

Optional: a word from iNaturalist about how creating and confirming Observations work generically, ie: not just on this project:

How Identifications Work in the iNat Community:

Important: when creating your user profile on iNat, there is a section, which if checked, allows the iNat community to assist in  identifying your species contributions. Although sometimes the community, which includes knowledgeable divers and scientists, may differ with your ID, I suggest checking this box. They are almost never wrong, because they have had quite a bit of experience with the most common species. Also, not checking this box make the contribution ineligible to be classified as ‘research grade,’ which is what we would like for this project.

“iNat tracks what you think your observations are and what the community thinks they are. The identification we share with data partners is the community identification, but if you don’t think the community’s opinion should ever overrule your own, you can opt out here. People will still be able to add identifications, but the community opinion won’t be favored over yours. This means your observations will not be eligible for research grade unless you agree with the community.”
There is also a section below this which allows you to select the Licensing you wish to apply to your photos, ‘Attribution/Commercial/Non-Commercial’ etc.
“Licensing your content gives other people the legal right to use it without asking your permission if they stick to the terms of the license. iNat uses your Creative Commons-licensed content to share with data partners like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), an international, inter-governmental organization that compiles and distributes biodiversity information from around the world.”







1. Ecological Assessment of the HMCS Yukon Artificial Reef off San Diego, CA,  by Ed Parnell: