[MARMAM] Pilot tests for VaraAppX: A new mobile App to record detailed stranding data of marine mammals

Eduardo Morteo eduardo.morteo at gmail.com
Thu Jul 16 09:45:26 PDT 2020

Hello everyone,

I would like to present to you, a new mobile App to record detailed stranding data for marine mammals. Over the past few years, the Faculty of Statistics and Informatics, together with the Marine Mammal Laboratory (LabMMar, IIB-ICIMAP) of the Institute of Biological Research, both at Universidad Veracruzana (Mexico), have been developing mobile and desktop technologies to facilitate the recording and analysis of information on stranded marine mammals.

We called this App VaraAppX, it currently works only in IOS devices (iPhones and iPads), and we are proud to say that it is already available for testing! (https://testflight.apple.com/join/giZbQAIe <https://testflight.apple.com/join/giZbQAIe>). However, it should be noted that to try it, the TestFlight App must be must installed first (https://testflight.apple.com <https://testflight.apple.com/>). The installation of both Apps is free and does not interfere with the normal operation of your devices. It is also important to mention that the App is currently in Spanish, but the architecture is planned for multiple languages, thus international availability will depend upon test results. 

We know very well that the quality, reliability and privacy of the data of both users and marine mammal strandings are fundamental aspects in the development of platforms of this type. For this reason, the team has carried out exhaustive analyzes in aspects of software architecture and information distribution, in order to keep the “sensitive” data always in the hands of the right people, without losing the ability to collaborate between different teams. Therefore, for security reasons, currently all the information (data and images) is stored locally, that is, it is not transmitted to any other device or platform, so you may use fictitious or real data during the tests.

As I mentioned earlier, we care deeply for the quality, reliability and privacy of the data of both stranding events and users; therefore, all tests will be carried out through the privacy policies by the General Direction of Information Technologies at Universidad Veracruzana (https://www.uv.mx/transparencia/infpublica/avisos-privacidad/) <https://www.uv.mx/transparencia/infpublica/avisos-privacidad/>.

It is important to note that we only have a little more than two months to test VaraAppX, so if you have an IOS device, Install it and test its functions and capabilities!. If you find an error, take a screenshot and report it through TestFlight.

Finally, if you would like to know the story behind our research, or if you want more information about the platforms we have developed, you can read the text below my contact information, or consult the documents in the references section (also below). Unfortunately, the latter are also all in Spanish, but most of them are available online. You may write to me directly and I can provide them for you.

On behalf of the entire Development Team, Thank you very much for your attention! 

We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your invaluable feedback.



Eduardo Morteo, Dr.

Head Researcher Level C
Marine Mammal Laboratory (LabMMar, IIB-ICIMAP)

Institute of Biological Research
Universidad Veracruzana

Calle Dr. Castelazo Ayala S/N, Col. Industrial Ánimas, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, CP 91190.

Ph/Tel: +52 (228) 841 89 00 
E-mail: emorteo at uv.mx




Ok, so the story of the development of this App goes like this:

The first approach to this technology was presented in the Mexican Marine Mammal Conference (SOMEMMA) (Morteo et al., 2001) with a relational database for Control and Monitoring of  Marine Mammals Species (CySdE) in Microsoft Access. It was locally adapted to the needs of a Civil Association (Ensenada Marine Mammal Research and Conservation, ICMME), but due to the level of detail and standardization of the information (adopted from international protocols), it had the potential to be scaled nationally. For this reason, the processes and paper-based forms were approved by the SOMEMMA Stranding Committee at the first national meeting in Puerto Aventuras (Bravo et al., 2003)

After a long time without follow-up, and with extraordinary work by both the students and the professors of the Faculty of Statistics and Informatics, this topic was revisited again in another SOMEMMA meeting, with the work of Villa-García et al. (2016), through the App VarAppmiento. Designed specifically for Android devices, this served only to notify strandings to the Coordination of the National Network of SOMEMMA. It fiished in a beta version for private test, thus it was not publicly distributed.

Later, during the 2018 SOMEMMA meeting, Hernández-Rosado et al. (2018) presented VaraAPP, which added functionalities to the previous version for Android, but with a better visual (Borroel-López, 2019) and logical designs. Developed only for IOS (iPhones), it provided the corner stone to scale the technology and processes to an online database; the goal was to concentrate and analyze stranding information on a wider geographic scale.

This is where VaraWeb emerged last year, in which Juárez-Capistrán (2019) implemented an online platform, which replaced the relational database (CySdE) presented almost 20 years ago (Morteo et al., 2001). Such platform was improved this year to eliminate the defects of the old CySdE system (i.e., single-user, single-platform, local backup, etc.), and it resulted in a second version of VaraWeb (Bustamante-Zarate and Jiménez-Jiménez, 2020) that includes multicriteria filters, simple spatial analyzes, and will allow the data to be divided by work groups with a central administrator (i.e. the coordinator of the National Network). This platform is still in testing and is not yet for public use.

Finally, this year Domínguez-Delgado (In prep.) culminated the development of a Mobile Application to record level 3 data for marine mammals stranded; we call it: VaraAppX. The purpose of this App is to replace the printed formats for data recording and to provide more efficient means to record, store and (if necessary) distribute the desired information (commonly level 1 information that we already share with the National Network) to the Web Platform (VaraWeb), to be concentrated, supported and (if applicable) analyzed in a general way at the national level. The idea is that if accepted by the Mexican stranding response groups, these tools would be integrated into the operation of the SOMEMMA Stranding Committee and, with their support, these will be to National Federal Authorities to standardize the stranding information in Mexico.


Bravo, E., G. Heckel, Y. Schramm y E. Morteo. 2003. Manual de Campo para el Registro de Datos en los Formatos de Atención a Varamientos de Mamíferos Marinos de ICMME. Investigación y Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos de Ensenada A.C.. Ensenada, Baja California, México. 18 pp.

Bustamante-Zarate A. y Jiménez-Jiménez M.L. 2020. Plataforma Web para registro de información de mamíferos marinos varados v2. Facultad de Estadística e Informática, Universidad Veracruzana. Xalapa, Veracruz, México, Veracruz, México. 111 pp.

Borroel-López M. Diseño de interfaz e imagen visual para una aplicación móvil. Versión 1. Facultad de Artes Plásticas, Universidad Veracruzana. Xalapa, Veracruz, México. 47 pp. 

Domínguez-Delgado A.E. En prep. VaraAppX: Aplicación móvil para registro de varamiento de mamíferos marinos. Facultad de Estadística e Informática, Universidad Veracruzana. Xalapa, Veracruz, México. 20 de Septiembre de 2018 a la fecha

Hernández M.,Cortés K., Pérez J.C., Morteo E., Delfín C., Acuña B., Borroel M. 2018. VaraAPP: iOS mobile APP for storing information of stranded marine mammals in Mexico. XXXVI Reunión Internacional para el Estudio de los Mamíferos Marinos. SOMEMMA. 27-31 de mayo, Villahermosa, Tabasco, México.

Morteo, E., B. Ortiz, R. Morteo, E. Bravo, Y. Schramm y G. Heckel. 2001. Base de datos para control y seguimiento de especies de mamíferos marinos varados (CYSDE). Pág. 40. XXVI Reunión Internacional para el Estudio de los Mamíferos Marinos. SOMEMMA. Ensenada, B.C., México. 6-10 de mayo, Ensenada, Baja California, México. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2314.6407

Juárez-Capistrán. M. 2019. Plataforma Web para registro de información de mamíferos marinos varados en México. Facultad de Estadística e Informática, Universidad Veracruzana. Xalapa, Veracruz, México. 178 pp.

Villa-García H., Cortés K., Pérez-Arriaga J.C., Morteo E., Delfín-Alfonso C.A., 2016. VarAppmiento: Plataforma tecnológica móvil para el reporte y seguimiento de mamíferos marinos varados en México. XXXV Reunión Internacional para el Estudio de los Mamíferos Marinos. SOMEMMA. 2-6 de mayo, La Paz, Baja California Sur, México.
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