FunNature & AnimalThey record spectacular images of 64,000 sea turtles in...

They record spectacular images of 64,000 sea turtles in view of a drone


At the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, about 620 kilometers from the nearest city (Cairns, Australia), is Raine Island, a coral key with only 21 hectares of surface, but with important environmental and cultural values . The entire island is a protected National Park for scientific purposes and is not accessible to the general public. In this marine sanctuary there is the largest population of green turtles ( Chelonia mydas ) in the world that, despite living in this paradise, is not immune to the changes that are taking place in the landscape and in the climate. This population, like that of other species that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef, is in decline and faces numerous threats.

The Raine Island Recovery Project is an initiative of the Government of Queensland and in which the Great Barrier Reef Foundation participates, which carries out numerous conservation initiatives on Raine Island. One of the many challenges for researchers monitoring the evolution of turtle populations is getting reliable estimates of the number of individuals. It is not an easy task, since we are talking about thousands of turtles that are very difficult to count from a boat. For this reason, the group has found its best ally in technology: in December 2019, scientists published an article in the journal PLOS ONE in which they explained how the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) is a very effective tool. to make accurate estimates of the number of female turtles nesting on the beaches of Raine Island. ” The research combines science and technology to more effectively count this endangered species, ” explains Anna Marsden, manager of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Thus, a few days ago the organization published some extraordinary images showing tens of thousands of green turtles: “Thanks to our ‘eyes in the sky’, we have counted more than 64,000 green turtles around Raine Island during this nesting season ! ”, They explained in a publication on the social network Instagram. “We are in the largest green turtle nesting area in the world and we are restoring this irreplaceable ecosystem for future generations.”

Protect and restore habitat

“Raine Island is the largest green turtle nesting site in the world and that is why we are working with our project partners to protect and restore critical habitat on the island,” explains Marsden.

And is that, despite the large crowds of turtles, in recent years their reproduction is not working well. The researchers discovered that many turtles fell off the cliff, were trapped in the sand, their nests were flooded with changes in the tidal regime, and are affected by the rise in temperatures experienced in recent years.

“We are taking steps to improve and rebuild the island’s nesting beaches and build fences to prevent turtle deaths, working to strengthen the island’s resilience and ensure the survival of our northern green turtles and many other species,” the expert concludes.

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