Frequently Asked Questions

What is MERMAID?

MERMAID is an online-offline web application for coral reef data collection. Our mission is to allow coral reef scientists to efficiently collect clean coral reef monitoring data. Users can register, create profiles and join projects with their teams as they collect field data offline through common transect methods. We believe that clean, standardized monitoring data, processed quickly and stored centrally and securely, can  transform and accelerate coral reef conservation.

Why should I use MERMAID?

Have you ever spent hours, days or months trying to compile different Excel spreadsheets? Have you lost track of which was the correct version?  Have you made mistakes in data analyses because of spelling errors (i.e. misspelled or inconsistent fish names)?  Have you ever joined a new project and immediately been tasked with tracking down old data?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then MERMAID might be your solution!

MERMAID is a online-offline web application with a vision to revolutionize how coral reef scientists collect, clean, and collaborate with data.

MERMAID in 30 seconds

What monitoring methods does MERMAID support? Can I add my own survey method?

MERMAID supports some of the most commonly used coral reef monitoring methods for both fish surveys and benthic transects:

  • Fish belt transects
  • Benthic point intercept transects (PIT)
  • Benthic line intercept transects (LIT)
  • Habitat complexity using a 0-5 scoring system along a transect

In the coming months, we plan to add new survey templates, like a rapid bleaching assessment template using roving observer quadrats. Also in development is the ability to add custom fields to survey methods, so that you can collect data in addition to what the survey method requires. Stay tuned!

Who can use MERMAID?

MERMAID is designed for coral reef scientists from NGOs, universities, and governments, and it is accessible to anyone! It is free to use and is built on open-source technologies.

How is my data stored?

Online, MERMAID data is stored in a PostgreSQL database hosted by Amazon Web Services. Data are added or retrieved from the database via an API (Application Programming Interface) that allows access based on a user’s permissions. Only users who have permission to access a project’s data (see below, Who can access my data?) can do so.

Who can access my data?

All data access is project-based. When you set up a project, only users you add to a project can see the data in that project. For each project’s users, you can choose one of three types of access:

  1. Read-only: user can only view, export and analyse data in the analysis tools, but cannot collect new observations
    • e.g. a project manager who is in charge of writing reports or analyses, but may or may not be collecting data in the field.
  2. Collect: user can view, export and analyse data, and collect new observations and create new sites and management regimes. Once the transect is submitted, user can no longer edit or delete observations.
    • e.g. a member of the project team that is tasked with collecting data
  3. Admin: user has full administrative privileges to add and edit sites and transect observations after they have been submitted.
    • e.g. typically one person designated as the lead of the project

For statistics, MERMAID will keep a simple count of how many users, countries and sites are contained within MERMAID’s database.

Can I export my data with MERMAID?

Yes. After you have collected and submitted transects in a project, you are able to export your information as a .csv file for further analyses in Excel or R.

Can I summarize or analyse data with MERMAID yet?

In the coming months, we are developing a reporting area where users can make simple graphs and summaries of their projects. Stay tuned!

For quality control, MERMAID produces basic summaries of transect observations, including total fish biomass and percent cover of benthic attributes, at the bottom of each transect entry page.

Is there documentation for MERMAID?

Yes. There is a comprehensive user manual here. Check back for updates as we release new versions of MERMAID.