One scientist's shot of thousands of olive ridley sea turtles is wowing the world - but it's also a warning of what we won't see if our oceans aren't protected.
Taken in 2016 but only released this week, the video slowly zooms out from a few turtles going about their day in the open ocean off the coast of Costa Rica's Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, to thousands of the critters, thousands more swimming underwater hidden from view.
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According to National Geographic, this is the greatest density of a sea turtle species ever recorded.
It's the result of an annual event where hundreds of thousands of female sea turtles turn up at the South American country within days of each other. Ostional is one of the only places where so many gather in one spot in one short period, usually between August and October.
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The video was taken by biologist Vanessa Bézy who was studying the phenomenon via a drone. She told National Geographic that she released the video now because these threatened turtles are in danger due to overcrowding at the beaches and development along the coastline.
“It’s an enigmatic natural phenomenon,” she says. “We don’t know how the turtles coordinate this and why.”
Guidelines are being created for developers to protect the turtles' habitat, which will come into effect soon. Another threat to turtles is egg harvesting, which is legal inside strict conditions, but illegal harvesting can have serious negative impacts.
Bézy hopes this video will help raise more awareness around the sea critters, and help solidify their protections.
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