Amazing drone footage has caught thousands of green turtles swimming to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to nest.
Scientists from the Queensland Government Department of the Environment and Science have registered an impressive 64,000 turtles in the world’s largest green turtle colony on Raine Island near the Great Barrier Reef.
The aerial view shows the endangered species making their way to the overgrown coral quay where they lay eggs on the beach.
The army of green turtles stretches hundreds of meters into the clear blue sea.
Green sea turtles, considered a vulnerable species in Queensland, are hunted for their meat and eggs, and are often caught in trawl nets and suffocation in plastic bags.
They are also losing more of their natural beach habitat due to rising sea levels.
Experts initially painted the turtles with a white streak of non-toxic paint as they gathered on the beach and then waited for them to return to the water.
But they found the results biased and decided to use drones to record the number of turtles in hopes of getting an accurate result.
Dr. Andrew Dunstan, senior researcher at the Environment and Science Department, told CNN, “We underestimate that much.
‘We find 1.73 times as many turtles with the drone and if we directly compare with the observer counts.
“It was difficult to accurately count thousands of painted and unpainted turtles from a small boat in rough weather.
“Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate and the data can be stored directly and permanently.”
Green turtles are normally found in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters around the world, according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Anna Marsden, general manager of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, congratulated the researchers on the incredible results.
She told local media, “We are seeing the world’s largest collection of green turtles captured in these extraordinary drone images, which have been documenting the largest numbers of turtles since we started the Raine Island Recovery Project.
“We are taking action to improve and rebuild the island’s nesting beaches and to build fences to prevent turtle deaths, all to strengthen the island’s resilience and the survival of our northern green turtles and many other species. “