Researchers have been making use of technology to track moose and shark, migratory birds and Alaskan bears and whatever you can imagine in between. Most of the time they use some kind of beacons generating radio signals that can be tracked from afar. This is a significant step forward from the low key technology used in the past when they had to capture an animal and put some paint on its skin/fur and after a when a specimen was captured find out if it was one of those “marked”.
This was the approach used for turtles, paint their shells with some identification sign and look for it when the turtles came back to lay eggs (they migrate long distances but go back to the beach they were born to lay eggs).
Managing thousands of turtles is a big endeavour and basically researchers ended up with some sort of statistical approximation. Now they shifted gear and are using drones plus plenty of image recognition software to count the turtles coming ashore to lay eggs on Raine island in Australia and then counting the ones hatching and going to sea.
Interestingly, they discovered they had underestimated their number by over 50% (looks like statistics does not work in the turtle business…). They have now counted over 60,000 green turtles that are using Raina as their home base for laying eggs (watch the clip).
I am not intrigued by turtles as such but I am in seeing the expanding capability to harvest data and analyse them through a multiplicity of sensors and channels. Counting turtles from above, those on the beach and those swimming in shallow waters with their number in the thousands, seems an incredible achievement to me.