The challenge to protect our coral reefs from the impacts of overfishing, land-based human activities and climate change continues. In Fiji, coastal populations are heavily reliant on marine resources for food, and livelihoods, and contribute to the nation’s growing economy.
Climate change is contributing to the deterioration of coral reef health, globally. According to a study revealed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the impacts of climate change, it is predicted that by the end of this century, most of world’s coral reefs may severely bleach and die. Bleaching occurs as a result of warm ocean temperatures.
There are large investments being made by concerned organisations and people to save the world’s coral reefs. However, more and more communities and decision-makers need information in “real time”, to implement effective management and action plans to improve and sustain the health of coral reefs.
Until recently, data collection to better understand coral reef health and resilience has not been easy, as it is time-consuming to enter data without errors, and to provide analysis quickly to assist decision-makers.
Recently, a new innovative tool called MERMAID was introduced to the marine scientists and coral reef managers to speed up that process of coral reef data collection.
MERMAID — a “Marine Ecological Research Management AID” was developed through the collaboration of scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Wildlife Fund and Sparkgeo.
The web-based tool works both online and offline for entering and storing data as soon as it collected in the field. MERMAID has made clean and easy to analyse data accessible to coral reef managers and other scientists. Therefore, it is becoming one of the key technological tools for WCS scientists and partners to help protect coral reefs around the globe.
Marine scientists of WCS in Fiji have field tested and are now using MERMAID to effortlessly to store local coral reef monitoring data. They have also been entering coral bleaching data into MERMAID to document and follow mild coral bleaching in Fiji in 2019, and produce a factsheet for decision-makers.