Thermal cameras on drones seek out iguanas

| 06/02/2019 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

Thermal cameras find a green iguana

(CNS): The invasive green iguana may be a cold-blooded reptile but the Department of Environment has been ferreting them out using thermal cameras mounted on drones. The DoE Terrestrial Resources Unit, which is partnering with researchers at Harrisburg University and Elizabeth Town College for this initiative, revealed in the latest edition of its magazine, Flicker, how the drones can help improve count accuracy and help find the iguanas in areas that are hard to get to. “The use of thermal cameras on drones is now allowing biologists to ‘see’ animals that were previously hidden to the naked eye,” said Dr Christine Proctor, an assistant professor of biology and ecology at Harrisburg University.

This heat sensing technology is easily used with endothermic (warm-blooded) creatures but the scientists believed it could also be used for ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals, which could revolutionise the way researchers look for reptiles.

“Thanks to a partnership with the Department of Environment, we were able to put our theory to test in December 2018 and search for green iguanas,” Dr Proctor said. “As it turns out, the iguanas warm up faster than the vegetation and maintain a slightly higher temperature throughout the day. We had confirmation that thermal cameras could indeed be used to spot a reptile.”

The technology will also be helpful for studying blue iguanas and the DoE is hoping that this cost-effective technology will help them manage the hunt for the green iguanas in to the Sister Islands, where densities are low and the animals harder to find and catch.

See more about the research in the full edition of Flicker, which also features an article marking World Wetlands Day on the importance of preserving wetlands in the fight against climate change.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What is surprising is how quickly funding I’d readily available for this project yet, our public schools don’t even have toilet paper for children and faculty. Shame on you Cayman Islands Government.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a dumb comment. Funding isn’t a zero sum game. A lack of toilet paper, or whatever, isn’t because of a lack of $, its a lack of management.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This entire exercise is a disgusting waste of public funds. It appears to me that we are funding an unscientific whim of Mr Fred who cannot see what is actually happening in the real world outside of his ivory tower.
    I have had an explosion of baby greens on my land since cullers stripped it without my permission. I have tiny, bright green iguanas in numbers I have never seen before and I was under the belief that greens only bred once a year. Is nature compensating for the open goal we have created? If it is we may have started something that will be far worse than before.
    Another point I wish to make is that I am involved in a commercial boat operation and cannot see why this small fortune is being spent on an invasive animal that is only proven to be a nuisance to non-indigenous plants and flowers and to pool owners.
    Yet no one is protecting the indigenous creatures that are being stripped from our island and its waters. No one is properly and effectively policing the Sandbar or claiming the fees from those who operate illegally without permits. In my opinion we should be hiring more enforcement, not keeping Mr Fred in business fighting an expensive and hopeless fight against the Green Iguana. Someone needs to take a good look at doe and investigate why we have little in the way of enforcement or the equipment, (such as modern boats) to do their damn job properly.
    I swam for 2 hours last weekend and found only 3 live conch in a graveyard of empty shells. This must stop before our waters are totally empty of conch and lobster. I didn’t have the heart to take these conch and feel deep sadness for the future.
    These questions need answers and people at doe need to be held accountable for their lack of law enforcement required by the ncl.

    • Anonymous says:

      Gee, I guess somebody has to state the obvious. Why don’t you call the cullers to return, numbnuts?

      • Anonymous says:

        Well I guess I need to state the obvious to you moron, I did. Nowhere in the piece does it say I didn’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        Gee, I guess somebody has to state the obvious. You’re a prize t*** 7:09 if that’s the only comment your pea sized brain can come up with from a well thought out contribution that any reasonable commentator would think worthy of consideration.

  3. Say it like it is says:

    We don’t need thermal cameras to locate the thousands of feral chickens roaming our roads and gardens and “third worlding” our capital. When is Goverment going to eradicate these pests or do they wish us to be known as the “Chicken Islands”?.

    • Anonymous says:

      Chickens are incredible creatures. They only become feral through the stupidity of humans.
      I know humans who are more feral than chickens. Laziness and neglect are the root causes.

      • Say it like it is says:

        3.57pm These “incredible creatures” dig up flower beds and compost heaps in our gardens, rip open plastic garbage bags in our streets, eat and destoy our mangoes as soon as they drop from the tree, crow from dusk to dawn to keep us awake, wander around the outside decks of our restaurants, annoying the diners. I agree we are putting up with this disgusting behaviour simply because our Government cannot see the chickens for the green iguanas.
        We may have a handful of down and outs who misbehave, but we don’t have thousands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Folklore has it that there was a chicken coop that blew open in West Bay during Hurricane Gilbert, and that these are the wild descendants from that release. Feel free to eat as many as you like.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is everything government’s responsibility? Why don’t you get up off your backside and cull the chickens in your neighborhood? I have done so, and will continue as long as they keep arriving. They are tasty. The old roosters require either stewing or being made into soup. No antibiotics. No growth hormones. For the most part, they live off the same sort of food you do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is there a thermal camera watching me right now

  5. Anonymous says:

    We should also get MI6 to come over and investigate who keeps bringing them to our shores.

  6. Mikey says:

    How about you get this sort of equipment to help fight crime the RCIPS can use these tools in a far more effective way than just hunting for lizards don’t you think?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good cause I cya find any anymore

  8. Anonymously says:

    ? the irony. One day the hunter will be hunted by the same technology

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