Tuesday 15 June 2021

Counting Crocs in Costa Rica

A large crocodile leaves the water in Costa Rica. CSU Channel Islands students are midway through their trip to the Central American country, where they are using a drone to count and map the reptiles’ locations.(Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/CSUCI)

Q COSTA RICA (Anne Kallas, Vcstar.com) Twenty students from CSU Channel Islands are in the middle of a 10-day trip to Costa Rica, where they’re using a drone to count crocodiles and map the creatures’ exact locations.

It’s part of a larger project aimed at keeping the reptiles and humans at a safe distance from one other.

- Advertisement -

Led by professor Donald Rodriguez, the students are using the drone to count the saltwater crocodiles that have become so numerous at an estuary that they’re now a big attraction — with tragic results. According to Rodriguez, someone lost a leg to a crocodile recently.

The state-of-the-art technology being used on the study trip came from CSUCI associate professor Sean Anderson’s fleet of about 20 flying robots.

Anderson, who heads the school’s Ecological Restoration Lab, said the drone is being tested for the first time as a tool for researchers to count the dangerous reptiles.

“We’re wondering whether the robots can be more effective than one person looking essentially sideways at a river and estuary,” Anderson said. “From our work elsewhere, we’ve seen huge advantages from above with the rover looking down.”

- Advertisement -

The drone is an autonomous quadcopter powered by a lithium polymer battery. It has about 10 to 15 minutes of flight time, according to Rodriguez.

This is the second time Rodriguez has taken a group to Costa Rica to conduct ecological research. He said he formerly took students to Mexico to examine wildlife, but when conditions there became too dangerous because of crime and attacks on tourists, he turned his attention to Costa Rica.

This latest group that left Sunday is conducting research at Las Baulas National Marine Park, on the western side of Costa Rica. It’s a known habitat of the leatherback sea turtle, which is a protected species.

CSUCI geomorphologist Linda O’Hirok is also on the trip, Rodriguez said, looking at and documenting the sea turtles’ nesting area, which is facing encroachment from surfers and tourists.

Crocodiles gather at an estuary in Costa Rica, a spot that is also attracting curious humans, sometimes with tragic results. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/CSUCI)

Rodriguez said that while the very small turtle population is holding steady, the saltwater crocodile population has exploded, thanks to fishermen who leave behind fish guts and other trash that entice the reptiles. The small strip of beach has also become a magnet for tourists who feed the crocodiles — a dangerous practice.

- Advertisement -

The students will go out on panga boats into the estuary where the crocodiles live and count them by hand and using the drone, which will fly a pattern over the river.

“With this robot, they may count, say, 10 crocodiles by flying overhead, instead of, say, eight that might get counted by someone standing on the side of the river,” Anderson said.

He said the goal is to eventually automate all wildlife counts.

“We will be able to do (the counting) more quickly if we automate,” he said. “And the computer would do detection of eyes and body shapes. There are all the big cost savings of using this, and there is much improved accuracy.”

In exchange for this trip, CSUCI will welcome a contingent from the University of Costa Rica later this year, Rodriguez said. The students will study the land and ecosystems on Santa Rosa Island.

“And they can go to protected areas in the Santa Monica Mountains, where we work with the Park Service there,” Rodriguez said. “The idea is that we could provide a kind of unique Mediterranean environment for them. And they’re providing a unique environment for us with tropical ecosystems.”

Rodriguez, the chairman of the Environmental Science and Resource Management Program at CSUCI, said his students tend to be interested in outdoor occupations such as being a park ranger or researcher.

“Our program is unique in that it combines what is traditional Earth science with resource management,” he said. “My background is in natural resource management of protected areas worldwide and in managing wildlife-human interactions, especially with human encroachment into dwindling habitats.”

Follow the CSUCI trip to Costa Rica on the blog http://cr.esrm.zone.

Article originally appeared at Vcstar.com

- Advertisement -

FACT CHECK:
We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Ricohttp://www.theqmedia.com
"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Related Articles

Tourists recognize the danger to see crocodiles on Tarcoles bridge

Tourists who stop to see the crocodiles on the bridge over...

Despite warning of crocodiles, bathers dive in!

What's wrong with this picture? The sign says it clearly: "Crocodiles....

MOST READ

Today’s Vehicle Restriction: June 10, “ODDS”

Today, Thursday, June 10, only ODDS can circulate. The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save for those under the...

Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister absent from the summit of Central American presidents

QCOSTARICA - The Daniel Ortega government sent its ambassador to Costa Rica, Duilio Hernández, as its representative to the summit of Central American presidents...

Direct flight will connect Guanacaste with Austin starting in November

QCOSTARICA - American Airlines announced that starting November 2, 2021, it will offer a direct flight between Austin, Texas and the Daniel Oduber International...

Today’s Vehicle Restriction: June 9, “EVENS”

Today, Wednesday, June 9, only EVENS can circulate. The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save for those under the...

Southwest adds yet another route to Liberia, now from Denver

QCOSTARICA - Southwest airlines will add a new route to the Daniel Oduber International Airport, in Liberia, this time connecting with the city of...

Tourism sector feels in crisis despite increase in international arrivals

QCOSTARICA - Despite the improvement in tourist arrivals reported in May, with more than 72,000 visitors, both the Cámara Nacional de Turismo (Canatur) and...

Opinion: Peru’s electoral drama is damaging democracy

Q REPORTS (DW) In Peru, the left-wing village school teacher Pedro Castillo has in all probability been elected the new president. The fact that...

5.7 Quake jolts Costa Rica

2021-06-10 17:27:0.5, Magnitude: 5.76, Depth 10.0 km, Epicenter: 95.5 km Southwest Malpais de Puntarenas. The jolt was felt also in the Central Valley. No reports...

The US sanctions Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega’s daughter and close associates

TODAY NICARAGUA – The United States imposed economic sanctions on four Nicaraguan officials close to President Daniel Ortega on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, including...

WANT TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST!

Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.