Did you know that the reefs on the south coast of Kenya are home to many green and hawksbill turtles? We have been conducting underwater surveys in Kenya since 2018, monitoring sea turtles along the Diani-Chale Marine Reserve. So far, we have recorded over 2,000 individual sightings and identified 545 green turtles and 72 hawksbills!!
However, our underwater surveys are limited in some aspects:
- Sea turtles move across large habitats and not all of them can be surveyed manually
- Sea turtles can often hide or leave when humans approach during underwater surveys
For this reason, we believe that drone surveys would greatly aid our efforts in recording and monitoring sea turtle populations in a continued non-invasive manner across larger areas. Drones can be flown over areas inaccessible to humans – areas far away from the shore, for example.
The data that we collect from drone monitoring will be key for sea turtle conservation action and policies and will help us:
- Discover new sea turtle hot-spots
- Understand habitat use by sea turtles such as seagrass lagoons, mangrove forests, river mouths and creeks, in and around marine protected areas
- Identify threats faced by sea turtles, such as boat traffic and fishing nets,a nd assess their potential interactions with sea turtles
- Help us find entangled sea turtles and initiate rescue missions
Conserving sea turtles is crucial as they play a critical role in ensuring the health of our oceans by balancing food chains and maintaining key ecosystems such as coral reefs and seagrass beds. Your contribution will go a long way in supporting robust scientific research – the backbone of all effective conservation policies and action.