Instructions for uploading data to the web


The database is organized in four sections or parts: sites, events, plates, and observations. For each site there are multiple sampling events. All general information pertaining to the site is entered in the ‘site’ section including specific location, site use information, site pictures, and latitude and longitude. This information is only recorded once. You can also access individual events at a specific site in the ‘site’ section by clicking on events under the site of interest. Each time you deploy plates at a particular site, a new sampling event needs to be entered in the ‘events’ section. For each sampling event there are multiple plates and for each plate many observations. The ‘plates’ section includes information about the plate such as when it was deployed and retrieved, where it was hung (for example, which slip number), its plate ID number, and what it looked like at retrieval (photo). Information about the organisms attached to the plates are recorded under ‘Observations’, this includes percent cover data, close-up images, and specimen collection data. When you view the data on the website, it is nested under the site data, so that you can view most of the relevant information pertaining to an individual event at once. The data is also sortable and downloadable (csv) by Bay, site and event.

Adding a new site:

Users only need to enter their site information once. If you are a new monitor at an existing site, please obtain the password to enter data under the existing site name. The previous monitor should have this, or you can contact the Plate watch coordinator ( If you are monitoring a new site, you’ll have to add this site before you can enter the data. To add a site, select ‘site’ from the pull-down menu under my data. Once there, you will see a link to add a new site. The following describes the site fields that should be completed. Please use names consistent with those already on the website (i.e. if state is entered as Alaska for others in the state, don’t enter AK instead.)


Enter your state name


Enter the name of the bay or body of water where your plates will be deployed (hung off the dock).


Enter the name of your site. This should be a descriptive name that helps others locate your site, for example the name of the marina where the plates were hung. Please don’t use names like site 1, or other names that don’t provide information.

Location: latitude and longitude

The specific location in decimal degrees of latitude and longitude can be entered directly into the fields labeled “lat” and “log” or you can use the map to find and mark your location. If you entered your lat/log into the fields, the map will update your location when you hit the update button at the end. To mark your location on the map, select the site marker and use the pan and zoom tools to drag it to your location. The lat/long will automatically appear in the fields below the map.

Site description

Provide a brief description of the site. Is it in a developed area with a lots of boat traffic or is it in a more remote area? Is the site near a hatchery or other type of aquaculture facility? Are there any risk factors near the site that would put the site at risk of invasion?


Upload an image of the site. A picture is worth a thousand words. A good photo can tell us a lot about the type of site you’ve selected.


Please provide any additional information about the site that we should know about.

Editing event: physical and site data


Select the site from the pull down list. Along with the name you will see the state and bay or harbor that you enter previously. For example: Alaska, Kachemak Bay, Homer Harbor


Enter the year, month and day.

Field Personnel

Enter the names of the field leader followed by the names of any assistants.

Water temperature (° C)

If you measured temperature in Fahrenheit, convert it to Celsius at ( You will see an error if your temperature is below -4oC or above 22 oC. If you recorded a temperature outside of this range contact the network coordinator.

Water salinity (ppt)

Salinity should be measured in parts per thousand (ppt). The salinity of your site should be between 15ppt and 35ppt (above 20ppt is preferred). If you recorded salinity outside of this range contact the network coordinator.

Turbidity (meters)

Record an estimate of the turbidly. This is the maximum depth in meters below the surface that you can see. This is usually measured with a secchi disk. If you measured this in feet please convert it to meters here

Number plates deployed

This is the total number of plates deployed at the site.

Number plates retrieved

This is the total number of plates retrieved.


Please record unusual weather that occurred within 2 weeks of deployment or retrieval. This might include heavy rain, strong wind, or particularly high or low tides.

Please also enter any problems that occurred such as the loss of a plate or other mishap that may be important. If the plate is missing enter the plate number in the section below.

Create Plate

Plate number

Enter the number etched and/or written on the back of the plate.


Enter information on the specific location of the plate, for example the name of the dock and slip number if at a marina.

Deployment and retrieval date

Enter the deployment and retrieval dates using the drop-down menus. Don’t forget the deployment date as this tells us how long the plate has been submerged. If this is you initial deployment, no further data after deployment date is needed for this entry date.

Plate Image (can upload 3 images)

Image of the entire plate with the plate label clearly visible at the bottom of the image and filled out with dark pencil or permanent marker.


Enter problems with the plate such as this plate was on the bottom or out of the water. If the plate was missing, write “plate missing” here. Please DO NOT enter data about the species on the plate in this section. All data pertaining to the plate needs to be entered under plate and observation subforms in the section below.

Number specimens taken

Record the number of specimens collected and preserved. Specimens should be collected for any of the target species, unless the target species is known to occur at your site already. In this case take a specimen only if the target species looks unusual in some way. Collect a specimen of any new or unknown species.

Number close-up shots

Record the number of close up photos taken. A close up photo is a photo of the individual species or specimen collected, with the label and the scale bar clearly visible in the image.



Select the taxa to lowest identification level known from the drop-down menu. If you don’t know the taxa at all, select other taxa and briefly describe it in the description section. If there are sections of the plate that are empty, selected empty space and indicate the amount of empty space under percent cover.


Briefly describe the characteristics of the unknown species or provide the name of a known species not included in the taxa list. Example: Tunicate, description: yellow-orange flower-shaped patches.

Close-up Image

Upload a close up photo. A close-up is a photo of the individual species or specimen collected with the label and the scale bar clearly visible in the image. Close up images are only needed for collected specimens, but you can include a close-up photo of any species on the plate.

Photo label number

Record the photo label number of the close-up image of the specimen you have collected.


Include any notes about the specific species observed. For example for organisms that are rare you many want to provide a count, or indicate if the animal is dead.

Percent cover

Record the percent of space that the taxon occupies on the plate. If there is empty space on the plate, also record the percentage that is empty. DO NOT record count data, put counts of species in the notes section.

Specimens taken

Check this box only if a specimen was taken of this species.