Drone footage has captured 64,000 green sea turtles migrating to their nesting spot on Raine Island in the Great Barrier Reef. Gimme some fin, noggin, duuuude.
How many turtles have you seen at once? Two? Maybe three or four? I bet you haven’t seen 64,000 – in fact, until now, no one has.
Using Drones to Count Populations
This epic footage captured by scientists as part of the Raine Island Recovery Project shows the biggest gathering of green sea turtles ever seen. The numbers have even shocked researchers, as the group of 64,000 is over 1.5 times larger than previous population estimates.
It’s the first time drones have been used to count and document population numbers and it’s been a major success.
Compared to a group of researchers counting turtles from a boat, which was the previous method for tracking population, capturing footage with a drone is a lot safer, more efficient and more accurate.
‘Trying to accurately count thousands of 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,’ says Dr Andrew Dunstan from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
Restoring Raine Island
In the footage, the turtles are lingering on the outskirts of Raine Island, the world’s largest green sea turtle rookery which lies 620km off the coast of Cairns. These female turtles are waiting for their chance to slide onto the sand and lay their eggs.
Recent changes in the island’s landscape have caused tidal inundation, meaning many nesting areas have been flooded and eggs drowned.
The Raine Island Recovery Project is currently working to protect and restore this crucial habitat by relocating sand, rebuilding nesting beaches and creating more safe areas for turtles to nest, with a lot of success so far!
‘Over the course of the project nearly 40,000 cubic metres of sand has been moved – the equivalent of 16 Olympic sized swimming pools – to double the amount of area that is high enough for turtles to nest in without their eggs becoming inundated by the tide and drowning,’ says Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden.
How epic! There’ll be a lot of space needed if 64,000 clutches of turtle eggs are to be laid.
Feature photo thanks to @huntingforparadise