For years, fantastic photos from above required expensive and special gear, as well as an airplane, of course! However, now, thanks to drones, anyone can snap amazing images from above. Recently, for example, people around the world got a great view of sea turtle nesting season in Australia, thanks to one drone photographer!
Unfortunately, due to hunting, trash, and global warming, the turtles captured in the images, green turtles, are currently endangered. Thankfully, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Foundation continues working hard to save the green turtle population. In fact, the photos come directly from this fantastic organization! In the photos released last week, scientists managed to count around 64,000 turtles. “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” Anna Marsden, the foundation’s managing director, said.
Meanwhile, the photos will also help develop safe nesting areas for the turtles, as well as tracking data. Thanks to the images, officials have closed off entire nearby beaches, ensuring green turtle safety. “We sort of became aware that although there are these massive aggregations, the actual reproduction isn’t working so well,” explained Dr. Andrew Dunstan, senior research scientist and lead author of a recent paper on sea turtle reproduction habits. “We’re taking action to … ensure the survival of our northern green turtles and many other species.”
Step By Step
According to all the scientists, a drone makes their jobs much, much easier. For decades, the scientific teams had incredible difficulty counting the number of sea turtles in any given area. Believe it or not, in years past, teams would actually paint the shells of the green turtles, making them stand out. Then, after painting their shells with white non-toxic paint, the members tried counting them from a boat. As you might imagine, the method proved less than successful. “Trying to accurately count thousands of painted and unpainted turtles from a small boat in rough weather was difficult,” Dunstan said. It also made turtles more vulnerable to tourists and predators.
That’s how the Great Barrier Reef Foundation decided to start using drones instead, back in December of last year. In the end, they stick with it and discovered how easy it was to count the turtles. Moreover, it’s safer for both the researchers and turtles. “Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored,” Dunstan continued. Since using the drone to count the turtles, they have found nearly two times as many of them! And the videos they filmed are purely stunning, letting viewers see the scenery, as well as the “largest green turtle gathering ever seen.”
Aside from creating new goals to repopulate green turtles, they want to incorporate technology. “In the future, we will be able to automate these counts from video footage using artificial intelligence so the computer does the counting for us,” the foundation representatives said.