Raspberry Pi rides on turtle backs to monitor conservation areas

When the Arribada Initiative was looking for a low-cost camera system to keep an eye on wildlife in complex environments, they turned to Raspberry Pi. For those who are not moved by turtle time, there is also a fair amount of penguin action in this blog, so keep reading even if heroes in half-shells aren’t your thing.

If you ever wondered what a turtle-eye view of the sea looked like…

Ahead of their time

It’s pretty common nowadays to see remotely accessible cameras being controlled from afar to do all sorts of things like keep an eye on your bird table or capture timelapse footage over long periods, but that wasn’t the case back in 2017 when Arribada was founded. Their desire to draw attention to threats to wildlife, plus financial constraints and the need to work in harsh environments, saw them adopt technology that was considered groundbreaking at the time.

These fancy waterproof cases are often the most expensive part of the kits

Turtle tagging

Turtle tagging was the first project Arribada took on. They wanted a turtle-eye view of the impact that fishing and other human activity was having. The solution needed to be waterproof at considerable depths, accessible by remote research teams, and affordable.

Team Arribada predicted other suitable cameras would cost £500, so our sub-£50 option was very attractive

Safe, affordable solution

A Raspberry Pi Zero and a Raspberry Pi Camera Module were packed inside a waterproof enclosure, which was then harmlessly attached to the shell of a green sea turtle. Photos, video, and location data are collected from the Raspberry Pi, and the hardware detaches itself from the animal once its job is done. Read more about how this works in our in-depth Success Story about the Arribada initiative.

March of the penguins

Penguinologists are also big fans of Arribada’s low-cost monitoring solutions.

Trickiest game of Where’s Wally ever

Hardware needed to withstand harsh Antarctic winters. The Pi-powered setups were found to have dutifully collected one photograph every day when they were finally serviced after three years out in the field. You can read more about the penguin patrols here.

Raspberry Pi in the natural world

We’ve seen so many incredible applications of Raspberry Pi in the wildlife conservation space, as well as in Earth sciences, that we had our lovely illustrator Sam tell the story in this animated video.

The penguins and turtles protected by Arribada pop up in this video, and you’ll also get to see other initiatives using Raspberry Pi to monitor the Bornean rainforest, volcanoes on Hawaii, beehives in England, and bears in Alaska. It might be the most adorable thing we’ve ever made.

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