The Great Barrier Reef Foundation has release incredible footage showing tens of thousands of green sea turtles swimming near Raine Island, North of Cairns Australia. The green sea turtles are coming ashore on Raine Island, which is about 620 kilometres north-west of Cairns in the Great Barrier Reef and is the world’s largest green sea turtle rookery.
Raine Island Recovery Project researchers have been investigating the best way to count all the turtles at the world’s largest green turtle nesting area. The team tracks turtles from boats, using underwater cameras and now using drones and have just published their findings (see the paper).
This important research combines science and technology to more effectively count endangered green turtles. The research paper’s lead author Dr Andrew Dunstan from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science is excited to share his work.
“Trying to accurately count thousands of painted and unpainted turtles from a small boat in rough weather was difficult,” Dr Dunstan said. “Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored.”
Co-author Richard Fitzpatrick from the Biopixel Oceans Foundation said, “What previously took a number of researchers a long time can now be done by one drone operator in under an hour.”
The research found drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), were the most efficient survey method, with underwater video like using a Go-Pro a useful alternative for in-water surveys.
The Foundation’s five-year, $7.95 million Raine Island Recovery Project is a partnership with BHP, the Queensland Government, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and the Wuthathi and Meriam Nation (Ugar, Mer, Erub) Traditional Owners the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.