Researchers in Queensland used drone footage to capture an incredible colony of green sea turtles. The drone footage was part of the Raine Island Recovery Project to accurately survey the turtles population.
More than 64,000 green sea turtles were discovered near the island. They were migrating to the shore for nesting season and to lay eggs.
The researchers were previously using paint to survey the population of the turtles. However, that did not prove to be as effective.
Dr. Andrew Dunstan, a researcher at the Department of Environment and Science (DES), said, “Previous population survey methods involved painting a white stripe down the green turtles’ shell when they were nesting on the beach. The paint is non-toxic and washes off in a couple of days.”
Further adding, “From a small boat, we then counted painted and non-painted turtles, but eyes are attracted much more to a turtle with a bright white stripe than an unpainted turtle, resulting in biased counts and reduced accuracy.”
“Trying to accurately count thousands of painted and unpainted turtles from a small boat in rough weather was difficult. Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored,” Dunstan also said.
The drones allowed the researchers to accurately conduct their survey and in a lesser amount of time.
Anna Marsden, the Managing Director at the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, also shared a statement. She said, “We’re seeing the world’s largest aggregation of green turtles captured in these extraordinary drone images that are helping to document the largest turtle numbers seen since we began the Raine Island Recovery Project.”
“This important research combines science and technology to more effectively count endangered green turtles. Raine Island is the world’s largest green turtle nesting site. And that’s why we’re working with our Raine Island Recovery Project partners to protect and restore the island’s critical habitat.”
She continued, “We’re taking action to improve and rebuild the island’s nesting beaches and building fences to prevent turtle deaths, all working to strengthen the island’s resilience and ensure the survival of our northern green turtles and many other species.”
The project also entails creating a safe space for the green sea turtles’ nesting ground.