Footage captured from a drone shows the world’s largest group of green sea turtles as they prepare to head ashore in Australia to lay their eggs. Seriously, there are a lot of turtles – check out this video:
The green sea turtles are flocking from all around the Pacific to their ancestral nesting grounds, as they do every year.
The footage has an important scientific purpose, as well as being pretty damn cool, in that it allows the scientists from the Queensland government to assess the numbers of green sea turtles that are heading towards North Queensland at the moment.
They usually turn up to Raine Island at around this time of year and create the world’s largest rookery – which is the technical term for ‘turtles’ nesting site’ – on the remote strip of land.
Green sea turtles are the only herbivorous sea turtle, and are currently classed as endangered.
If you look at the video and do some counting – seriously, don’t even attempt that – you’ll notice that there are thousands of them here, but this represents a large proportion of the total number in the world.
The scientists reckon there are more than 60,000 turtles nesting at Raine Island this year. The island is at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, and sees the reptiles rush there every year about now for a nesting season that lasts from October to February.
They like to get there early, it would seem.
Before the introduction of drones, the researchers would have to count the turtles from a boat, or head ashore to paint white lines on the backs of nesting turtles.
This way is not only less invasive, and less difficult, it also provides us with these incredible shots of the sheer number of animals that are gathering.
Andrew Dunstan, from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, told 7News: “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, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored.”
He continued: “This research is of prime importance to the understanding and management of the vulnerable green turtle population.
“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.”
Using computers to count turtles? That’s a hell of a job title.
Featured Image Credit: Queensland Government