There is, at this point, absolutely no need to remind people that nature is pretty awesome. Pink manta rays, bioluminescence and dolphins, frozen lake waves, growing yeast—the list goes on and on.
Joining this list are green sea turtles. The Queensland Government recently posted footage on its Queensland Environment Twitter account of thousands of green sea turtles nesting just off the coast of Raine Island, calling it one of the most spectacular sights people will ever see.
Back in December of 2019, Researchers took advantage of drone tech to conduct some population surveys at Raine Island, a vegetated coral cay around 32 hectares in total area, located on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef and roughly 620 kilometers (390 miles) northwest of Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
The captured footage shows an estimated 64,000 green sea turtles nesting in their rookery (scientific term for nesting grounds) on Raine Island, either waiting to come ashore to lay eggs, or already doing so onshore.
You see, green sea turtles are a threatened species (endangered status) due to a number of factors: relentless hunting, poaching, and egg harvesting as well as boat strikes, fishermen’s nets that lack turtle excluder devices, pollution, and loss of habitat. So scientists are keeping a close eye on their populations in hopes of helping the species to survive.
This is some of the most spectacular vision you will ever see - our new eye in the sky has captured 64,000 turtles off the coast of Raine Island, north-west of Cairns.— Queensland Environment (@QldEnvironment) June 9, 2020
More: https://t.co/76WPkfoRSG pic.twitter.com/HC7tZjVbZV
“Previous population survey methods involved painting a white stripe down the green turtles’ shell when they were nesting on the beach. The paint is non-toxic and washes off in a couple of days,” explained Dr. Andrew Dunstan of the Department of Environment and Science (DES) in a Queensland Government public media release.
He continued: “From a small boat, we then counted painted and non-painted turtles, but eyes are attracted much more to a turtle with a bright white stripe than an unpainted turtle, resulting in biased counts and reduced accuracy. 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.”
The drone footage was soon analyzed frame by frame in a laboratory, this way making sure there was minimal observer error. Researchers have estimated based on the videos that there are around 64,000 green sea turtles waiting to nest on the island.
The Raine Island Recovery Project is a five-year, $7.95 million collaboration between BHP, the Queensland Government, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Wuthathi and Kemer Kemer Meriam Nation (Ugar, Mer, Erub) Traditional Owners, and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. It aims to protect and restore the island’s critical habitat to ensure the future of key marine species, including green turtles and seabirds.
Bored Panda has reached out to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation who are currently in the process of responding, so stay tuned for an update. However, they did provide us with a little bit more video footage which you can find below.
You can learn more about the projects by visiting the Queensland Government and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation websites. But before you go, let us know what you thought of this! Do you also think turtles are awesome? Let us know in the comments section below!