New IWDG database search facilities on-line

21st Dec 2005 New search facilities including the ability to map strandings and explore land-based effort watch data are now available.

You can now look at a map and find a headland near you, click on the headland and bring up all data on that location. At each site there is a picture and description about access and the best position at the site, followed by a summary of number of watches carried out, total hours watched and mean watch duration and mean sighting rate. A list of species observed at the site are also presented.

If you scroll down a summary of the total hours watched and number of sightings per month is presented graphically, as well as in tabular format. Each species can be searched and graphed separately. We have included frequently requested searches as macros, so all you have to do is click on the link.

Stranding records can now be searched as per sighting records, with searches by county, species and year available in the advanced search. To set this up we had to change grid references from around 1600 records to latitude and longitude.

The design and structure of the database and website was carried out by Padraic Moran from Galway on contract to the IWDG. We would like to thank Padraic for his massive contribution, tolerance and numerous innovative ideas. What visitors to the site cannot see of course is all the work on the database structure and the preparation of a very user-friendly web manager. This will enable us to input records; both casual sightings, strandings and effort watches, through the website and with a host of drop down menus should speed up data entry and minimise errors in data input.

As with all big projects there will always be errors with locations or spellings. If you do find any perceived errors please let us know.

We hope you will enjoy this new facility and use it to explore the diversity and occurrence of cetaceans in your area. We think this is a very valuable research and management tool and hope it will be used as such.

The facilities and options on the database and website probably now exceeds the database and our new challenge is to collect enough sightings and strandings data to really get full value from the search facilities.

We think this initiative, i.e. developing on-line access and search facilities, as well as daily updates, is the future of biological recording in Ireland and we suggest it would make a good model for other animal and plant groups on the island.

Simon Berrow

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