Sea turtles being watched from the air at Cape Lookout

Duke Marine Lab photo

CAPE LOOKOUT, NC (WITN) - Sea turtles along one stretch of our coast are being watched by drone-like vehicles from the air.

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and Duke University Marine Lab are monitoring the turtles in the waters around the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Researchers are using the drones, or unmanned aircraft system, to collect high resolution photos.

"This work will not only help us better understand the sea turtle populations that use Cape Lookout Bight each spring, but also take advantage of the large numbers of turtles in such a small area to test new methods, like UAS (drone) surveys, for doing sea turtle research," said Dr. Larisa Avens,a biologist coordinating the project.

The research area includes Cape Lookout Bight, as well as the Back and Core sounds. The monitoring will run though November.