Written by Laura English 

Produced for online by Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Lam

A group of indigenous rangers in Far North Queensland are now using drones to monitor the Great Barrier Reef.

It is the first time an Indigenous ranger group has received certification to use drones for commercial use.

A drone at work capturing footage of a beach

Civil Aviation Safety Authority Corporate Communication Manager, Peter Gibson, says the drones are really beneficial and becoming integral to the industry.

“Drones are increasingly becoming an important part of the aviation sector, doing all sorts of industrial, commercial and now community type work,” he says.

The drones will scan sections of the Great Barrier Reef as well as land near Cape York.


Drone footage showing coastal erosion in Sydney

Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers Operations Manager, Mick Hale, says they will monitor the health of the reef as well the wildlife living in and around it.

“We’re going to be looking at coastal vegetations, to capture salt water incursions caused by rising sea levels,” he says.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director, Anna Marsden, says sea rangers play an important part in reef conservation.

“Looking after this amazing protected area but keeping a watchful eye over the changes to make sure that we’re able to respond to when we see an ecosystem or something in decline.”

Six species of turtles are currently being monitored by the Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers.

Ms Marsden says it is important to keep an eye on the turtles as they help indicate the health of the entire reef.

“They are important pieces in the puzzle of understanding this system as it’s facing many challenges,” she says.

Mr Hale says the new drones will make monitoring species like these turtles a lot easier.

“If I can just get to one end of a beach, I can fly those beaches in 15 minutes and capture the same information,” he says.