The collection of data and the development of the database on MS Access took more than a dozen years. The Bishop Museum (Honolulu), with support from PBIN, facilitated the programming of the database for the web and hosts the website. It was launched on 8 March 2003, reprogrammed and radically redesigned on 1 May 2005, and further developed 1 October 2005.
The multimedia database is designed to integrate scientific and traditional information on all the plants and animals of the Cook Islands - native and non-native; terrestrial, marine, and freshwater. The database can use a range of criteria to display subsets of species for special interest groups.
The database lists around 4,300 species (July 2007), which included most of the species known to experts and recorded in publications. We estimate there are about 3,000 more species to be recorded.
About 2,600 species have images to aid identification. Textual information is growing (slowly).
The website and its database are available on CD from the Natural Heritage Project. A new CD is produced each year about mid-year.
In the database there are more than 100 fields of data for each species. Most of this information is displayed on the Species Card page. When a particular field is empty this may or may not be indicated on the Species Card.
Where possible, question marks are used to indicate that particular information is incomplete or might be mistaken.
Sometimes a field for many species can contain data which has not been adequately checked and is not marked with a question mark. These areas are listed below: