The processes used to collect and manage the nest survey data have evolved overtime. Initially, the underwater slates were collected after each dive, photocopied and the copies filed until the data could be transferred to a spreadsheet database. One person was responsible for entering the data, a time consuming process limited the need to have the data entry person also conduct Census dives. Data entry was often delayed and the results of the census were not readily available.
The first step made to improve the process was moving the data from spreadsheets to a database. This provided easier access to the data but did not deal with the workload on the person entering the data.
The solution to this was distributing the data entry work between all of the surveyors and having a separate database manager. A data entry worksheet was developed and distributed to all surveyors.
After each Census dive, each surveyor transfers the data from their underwater slate to an Excel data entry workbook. The data entry fields of the workbook emulate the underwater slate making it easy for data to be transferred from the slate to the workbook. In addition to the data from the slate, the surveyor enters general information about the dive and the areas and features surveyed. The data entry workbook uses the raw data to build tables that are then copied into an Access database. The completed data entry workbook is emailed to the database manager. The slate is wiped clean in preparation for the next survey dive. Some surveyors copy their slates prior to cleaning them to provide a backup record of the information.
The database manager assigns and enters a dive number into the workbook, checks the data to ensure that the data have been entered correctly, and identifies any questions regarding the data. If there are questions, the database manager contacts the surveyor and asked them for more information regarding the data. Once the data has been reviewed and validated, it is copied into the Access database. Both the original (unaltered) and reviewed forms of the data entry workbook are stored for future reference.
Summary reports are distributed to all of the surveyors each week to help them plan their next Census dives. These reports provide information on the last time each route was surveyed and on the locations of all egg masses that have been identified. Three to four hours of effort go into database management and reporting during the nesting season.The ongoing data entry results in data entry being completed shortly after the last survey dive of the nesting season thus allowing for timely summaries of the year’s activities.