Science

World's largest green turtle colony almost twice as big as thought

World's largest green turtle colony almost twice as big as thought”

Thousands of endangered Green Turtles have been spotted preparing to nest on the Great Barrier Reef.

Australian researchers have captured spectacular drone footage showing tens of thousands of sea turtles nesting on an island near the Great Barrier Reef.

Previously, researchers would paint a non-toxic white stripe down the turtles' shells and would count them, those with and without white stripes, from a small boat.

They would then compare the ratio of painted turtles to unpainted turtles to determine how many were in the area.

Green turtles, found mostly in tropical and subtropical waters, are considered an endangered species, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Raine Island is the largest remaining turtle colony in the world, but despite attracting a "massive aggregation, quot; of the creatures, scientists noted that they did not breed as expected due to flooding of nests and inhospitable terrain".

According to a report in CNN, scientists have accurately counted the green sea turtle by deploying drones at the world's largest green turtle rookery.

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"Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored", he said.

"This research is of prime importance to the understanding and management of the vulnerable green turtle population", added Dr Dunstan. However, this method of counting proved inaccurate due to visibility conditions.

The footage was taken in December, which is the green turtles' peak nesting time in Australia, and published Monday alongside a study in the journal PLOS ONE.

However, when they tried to count the turtles from the boat, they realised that the results were always biased.

With this new way of keeping track of the population, researchers hope that in the future, they will be able to automate the counts from video footage using artificial intelligence.

Researchers in Queensland, Australia exploring new ways to conduct turtle population surveys realized drone footage is the most efficient way to collect unbiased, accurate data. 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.

Green turtles are frequently caught in fishing nets and their eggs often fall prey to hungry dogs, raccoons, birds and crabs.



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