discussion / Sustainable Fishing Challenges  / 11 February 2021

Sea turtle monitoring

Hello everyone.

I would like to know if anyone has suggestions on techniques to monitor sea turtles in areas where the density might be low and the sites are hard to access?

I would also like to know if anyone has used drones for sea turtle monitoring? If so, what kind of drone have you used or would recommend?

Many thanks in advance.

Kind regards

Hi Evelyn. 

I found this article which indicates there is an open source platform from ZSL/Arribada that 's either developed or in-progress. I believe it might be the Horizon platform,although @Alasdair  could provide more information on the platform and it's availability. 


Hi @evelynbritez 

Many thanks for the notice @Freaklabs 

That's correct, we built an open hardware platform specifically for sea turtle tags called Horizon. It's co-designed by Arribada and ZSL and has been used to track green sea turtles and leatherbacks. A good place to get started and to learn more is here https://arribada.org/horizon

Are you looking to count nesting females on beaches, males at sea, or track turtles out of interest?

I could point you to researchers at Exeter Uni who have considerable experience using drones to monitor turtles.




The Turtle Foundation based in Germany has been using drones to monitor turtle nesting beaches in Cabo Verde. Link is below, feel free to email me if you want an introduction to them. [email protected]


It depends on the local laws... but we're building a drone that can fly to a preset GPS location up to 30 kms away and land. On top of the drone is a motion activated camera. The drone can shut down for a preset amount of time such as 24 hours, 48 hours or as long as you dare to risk. Then it takes off again and flies home. I'm also building a motion camera on a tripod that can be delivered by a drone while you move along the beach in a boat for those areas that can be reached by boat but perhaps landing on the shore isn't possible. I'll post again when the project is finished in the next couple of days.

As for thermal camera drones, they have a limited range of 5kms but if thats within your distance needs you could just fly patrols while counting turtles. They're expensive drones to own starting at about $5000 each.

To build one of the autonomous drones that I'm going to release in a "how to build" page is about $400 in parts.