Officials in Thailand who utilize drones for marine monitoring were recently able to catch footage of a leatherback sea turtle, the biggest turtle species in the world, coming to shore to lay eggs using thermal imaging technology.
The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) website announced that the turtle observed last week had made its way to shore and excavated a nest in the sand to lay her eggs, which will incubate for 55-60 days before hatching.
The department claims that thermal drones have an advantage over human researchers because their sensors can identify the thermal differences between animals and their environment, or the body heat of warm-blooded organisms, even in total darkness. This technique is useful because it reduces the likelihood that the turtles’ nests will be disturbed by human activity such as noise or light.
On the IUCN Red List, leatherback sea turtles are listed as endangered because of threats to their habitat, illegal hunting, and plastic pollution.