Spectacular footage shot off the Queensland coast that shows 64 000 green turtles on the Great Barrier Reef is making headlines around the world.
The remarkable drone footage has been shown to millions of viewers and to readers of news and nature media outlets, in what is sure to be a long-term boost to eco-tourism in Australia.
Researchers from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science recorded the huge bale (the correct name for a group) of green turtles around Raine Island in a remote part of the Great Barrier Reef.
You can see YouTube footage from the drone here:
Restoring the island as a sea turtle habitat
Raine Island is considered to be the largest remaining green turtle nesting location in the world and is a protected national park not accessible to the public. The Raine Island Recovery Project is working to protect and restore the island’s green sea turtle habitat.
The aerial footage released to the public this week was shot in December 2019 by a drone assisting researchers to study the approximately 64 000 turtles as they waited to come ashore and lay their eggs.
Important research combines science and technology
“We’re seeing the world’s largest aggregation of green turtles captured in these extraordinary drone images that are helping to document the largest turtle numbers seen since we began the Raine Island Recovery Project,” Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director, Anna Marsden, said.
“This important research combines science and technology to more effectively count endangered green turtles.
“Raine Island is the world’s largest green turtle nesting site and that’s why we’re working with our project partners to protect and restore the island’s critical habitat.
“We’re taking action to improve and rebuild the island’s nesting beaches and building fences to prevent turtle deaths; all working to strengthen the island’s resilience and ensure the survival of our northern green turtles and many other species.”
You can see footage from a 2014 video with Sir David Attenborough here:
A research paper has just been published
A research paper on the project has just been published in the highly respected Plos One journal. The 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,” Dunstan said.
“Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored.”