Thousands of green sea turtles were seen congregating on the edge of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef during the nesting season.
Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) scientists captured the beautiful aerial footage of the nesting turtles using a drone at the Raine Island, the world’s largest green turtle rookery that is approximately 620 kilometers (385 miles) northwest of Cairns.
Raine Island is the biggest remaining turtle rookery in the world, but scientists said the turtles were not reproducing as expected because of inhospitable terrain and nests flooding, as reported by CNN.
“We sort of became aware that although there’s these massive aggregations, the actual reproduction isn’t working so well,” Dr. Andrew Dunstan, from DES, told CNN in an interview.
The scientists wanted to help the struggling turtles, thus realizing the need to use drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), to document the endangered sea turtles.
“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 and much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored,” Dunstan, who is also the senior research scientist and lead author of their study, said in a statement.
The researchers plan to use their discovery to understand and manage turtle population better. They hope to automate the counts from the video footage using artificial intelligence in the future.
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