When reef scientists go on a field expedition, our tools are simple: SCUBA gear, clipboards, pencils, rubber bands and waterproof paper. From Belize to Kenya and the Solomon Islands to Madagascar, these are the methods used by coral reef scientists for decades. We spend long days underwater in remote locations and often pass our nights without electricity, internet or running water. In the evenings, working by solar lanterns or headlamps, we painstakingly hand-copy our data from underwater paper into Excel spreadsheets. I’ve spent hundreds of hours underwater studying the health of coral reef ecosystems around the world — being underwater to collect the data we need to understand the health of coral reefs is something scientists have gotten good at. But logging, sorting and tracking data to turn it into actionable conservation management has always posed a big challenge. Coral and clipboard. Photo: Emily Darling/WCS A new platform called MERMAID has begun to change that. MERMAID (Marine Ecological Research Management AID), which launched last year, is a first of its kind: a free, online-offline platform that allows scientists anywhere in the world to collect, analyze and share field-based coral reef surveys. The platform was developed by myself and a […]

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