Drone Captures The Largest Swarm Of Sea Turtles Ever Filmed

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Given the fact that sea turtles are in the midst of an extinction crisis, having the occasion to witness such a large congregation of an endangered species is a rare and special opportunity indeed.

Biologist Vanessa Bézy flew her drone over the Costa Rican coastline to capture what might just be the largest swarm of sea turtles ever filmed, reports National Geographic. The footage, shown in the video below, depicts thousands of olive ridley sea turtles swimming across an area just off Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. It’s estimated that there is roughly one turtle for every square meter in the footage. The congregation is so dense that you could almost imagine hopping over the sea by leaping from shell to shell.

“I immediately knew there was something special going on,” said Bézy, to National Geographic. “To this day I’m still blown away by the video. They look like bumper cars out there.”

Swarms of turtles aren’t unusual at Ostional; the refuge was established in 1983 as a protected area specifically for the turtles. But swarms this dense have never been seen before from the air as most photography documenting this event occurs on the beach.

Many beaches that are home to sea turtle nesting areas are becoming more and more concerned about the growing tourist population.

New regulations have been proposed to protect these critical beaches, but as developers encroach and access becomes easier, the regulations may not be enough. Part of the problem is that olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings have a very low survival rate into adulthood. Only about 1 out of 100 reach maturity, and that’s just considering natural threats. If you pile on threats from human encroachment, it’s easy to see how the turtle population could crash fast, potentially in a single generation.