Incredible footage captures the world’s largest group of nesting green sea turtles heading ashore to lay eggs. A drone captured the footage at Raine Island off the coast of far north Queensland and shows over 64,000 turtles.
Seriously, there are a lot of turtles – check out the video below:
The green sea turtles are flocking from the Pacific to their ancestral nesting grounds, as they do every year.
The Queensland Government shared this footage calling it one of the most spectacular sights people will ever see.
The footage also has a scientific purpose. It allows researchers to assess the numbers of green sea turtles heading towards North Queensland at the moment.
Green sea turtles are a threatened species (endangered status) due to many factors.
For example, relentless hunting, poaching, egg harvesting, and boat strikes. Pollution and loss of habitat are also causing a decline in the turtle population.
Researchers are keeping a close eye on their numbers in hopes of helping the species survive.
And using technology, such as drones, has proved the most effective way to count these green turtles.
In a press release, Dr. Andrew Dunstan of the Department of Environment and Science (DES), said:
“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.”
“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.”
As a result, researchers would get inaccurate counts, Dunstan said.
Also, trying to count turtles manually is laborious.
“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 [is] immediately and permanently stored.”
Female turtles often choose the same beach as their mothers to nest on. This explains why Raine Island is home to so many green turtles.
While on the beach, the females dig up a pit in the sand with their flippers. They then fill the holes with 100 to 200 eggs—the eggs hatch after about two months.
The most dangerous time in the turtles’ life is when it moves from nest to sea. During this time, they’re in danger from multiple predators, including crabs and flocks of gulls.
Tourists are also likely to stumble on the little turtles while on the beach.