Australian scientists have found that on Raine Island, near the outer harbor of the Great Barrier Coast, about 64,000 green sea turtles are preparing to lay eggs, significantly more than expected.
The world’s largest colony of green sea turtles laying eggs on the Australian island of Raine at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef is almost twice as large as previously thought, scientists said, explaining that drones have provided them with a better way to study this endangered species.
This is good news for all those who were concerned about reducing their numbers.
When we compared the numbers with the help of drones and those we realized from the boats, we found that in the past we underestimated the figures by nearly twice, said Richard Fitzpatrick, a researcher at the Biopixel Foundation Oceans.
The results of the December study, published Thursday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, show that using drones will document the condition and number of these endangered sea creatures in the most accurate way.
These animals have been declared an endangered species due to hunting, collecting their eggs, getting fewer nesting sites and the risk of being trapped in fishing nets or plastic bags. In many countries, their displacement from natural habitats is prohibited, and the places where eggs are laid are often protected.
Green sea turtles live mainly in tropical and subtropical waters and migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches where they lay eggs.
Before the drones were introduced into the process of tracking green sea turtles, experts marked their shells with a non-toxic white stripe and counted them from boats as the animals moved towards the shore.
However, due to poor visibility, they counted both marked and unmarked turtles, which proved imprecise.