Scientist from Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science captured aerial footage of thousands of green turtles congregating on the edge of Australian Great Barrier Reef during nesting season.The drone the scientists used recorded approximately 64,000 green turtles.
Green turtles,which are endangered and under threat due to hunting,over harvesting of their eggs, getting trapped in fishing equipment and loss of beach nesting sites are named after the color of their cartilage and their fat.
Although Raine Island is the biggest remaining turtle rookery in the world and it attracts a “massive aggregation” of the creatures,scientists noticed that they were not reproducing as expected due to nests flooding and inhospitable terrain.
After implementation of a series of interventions to help the struggling turtles,scientists have sought to track their population and in a research conducted in December and published in a scientific journal Plus One on Thursday,using droned or UAVs,unknown aerial devices, was the most accurate way of documenting the endangered creatures.
Initially,researchers used to paint the turtles with a white strip on non-toxic paint while they gathered on the beach and waited for them to return to the water where they tried to count them from the boat.
“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,”Dr Andrew Dunstan, senior research scientist and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. He added that they’re finding 1.73 times as many turtles with a drone than when they did with a boat.
Researchers plan on using the results to understand and manage the turtle population.