Dr Miles said drone technology utilised during the 2015-2016 season helped researches track changes to the sand profile, as well as count turtles.
“The drones meant that topographic mapping was easier to obtain, and minimised any impact on the environment, helping preserve the sensitive ecology of this natural wonder,” he said.
“The drones have been highly accurate, and the results have shown that the re-profiled area of the beach has remained stable.
“The same technology will be used to continue monitoring so that the longer-term resilience of the changes can be determined."
Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said these early results were very encouraging and marked a positive start for the five-year project.
“Raine Island is such a special place which is of critical importance to the northern Great Barrier Reef’s endangered green turtle population, as well as the many other species that depend on it,” Ms Marsden said.
“Protecting the island’s precious ecosystem is a priority and the Raine Island Recovery Project is a working example of what can be achieved when we bring together government, business, Reef managers and traditional owners for the benefit of the Reef.”
Dr Miles said funding from BHP Billiton through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation meant the project team was able to have an increased site presence on Raine Island.
“This led to 40 adult female turtles being rescued and returned to the water during last season’s three field trips to the island,” he said.
“These turtles were likely to have otherwise died from heat exhaustion when becoming stranded or disoriented after the previous night’s nesting activity.
“Extra cliff top fencing was also installed, bringing the total to 1100m. The fencing prevents adult female turtles who have wandered into the centre of the island from falling off the cliff edges.
“These turtles had previously ended up on their backs after falling from the steep cliffs which have been created by erosion, leading to a terrible death without human intervention.
“We estimate that the fencing has prevented more than 400 deaths of adult female turtles since it was installed and this number will only continue to grow,” he said.
Dr Miles said preparations were well underway for the next nesting season, due to begin in November.