Australian researchers this week released a drone video showing at least 64,000 endangered green turtles on Raine Island, an island on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
The nesting season in Australia began with a breathtaking aerial view of thousands of turtles gathering on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. UAV images, shared by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, show the largest gathering of green turtles ever seen on Raine Island.
Researchers at the Raine Island Recovery Project were able to count as many as 64,000 turtles using a drone. “We are seeing the largest concentration of green turtles in the world captured by these extraordinary drone images that help document the largest number of turtles seen since we began the Raine Island Recovery Project,” said Anna Marsden, executive director of the foundation, in a press release.
An endangered species
he project is helping to improve and rebuild the island’s nesting beaches by constructing fences to prevent turtle deaths and strengthen the island’s resilience. The green turtle is endangered and threatened by hunting, overexploitation of its eggs and the loss of nesting sites on the beaches. It is also often trapped in fishing equipment.
We’ve come to realize that despite these massive aggregations, actual reproduction doesn’t work so well,” Dr. Andrew Dunstan of the Department of Environment and Science told CNN. He explained that his team had noticed that the turtles were falling off cliffs, getting trapped by the heat and suffering from flooding of their nests.
UAVs are replacing the ships
The group found, during research conducted in December, that using drones to monitor the activity of green turtles was more accurate and much safer than using boats to count them, their research shows. Previously, the group marked the turtles with non-toxic paint and counted them from a small boat.
Trying to accurately count thousands of painted and unpainted turtles from a small boat in bad weather was difficult. Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored,” said Dunstan, lead researcher and lead author of the paper. He added that they found many more turtles with a drone than with a boat. In addition, sea enthusiasts are treated to breathtaking images.