Be sure to read the full article and checkout the interactive map of St. Joseph – it’s pretty incredible. From National Geographic:
First, they made systematic passes of the whole atoll with their fixed-wing, pro mapping-grade eBee drones, then they stitched the resulting digital images together. That produced a gorgeous high-resolution map (and a complementary 3D model) of the island, which scientists will use to study changes in sea level, the reef, and vegetation. The software removed any moving objects that had passed between the drones and the island in order to provide the highest image clarity. The map is so accurate, you can geolocate any spot on the atoll with a precision of 12 inches (30 centimeters).
Next, the team flew drones even lower above the surrounding waters, about 160 feet (50 meters) above the waves. These images reveal a rich abundance of lemon and black tip sharks, sea turtles, and sting rays. Scientists are currently pouring over the images, but early analysis suggests an encouraging number of young sharks in the lagoon, Scholl says.
Finally, the team tried flying a thermal camera over the beach to look for buried turtle eggs, but the drones’ “eyes” were unable to penetrate the sand.
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