Red Hen Helps Monitor Sea Turtle Migration and Shrinking Mangrove Forests

by | Oct 8, 2013

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Oct. 1, 2013”Video mapping and geo-tagging technology developed by Colorado-based Red Hen Systems, LLC is enabling scientists around the world to gather data and produce imagery and video that show environmental change that is invisible to the naked eye.

It is gratifying to see the power of our technology making an impact in conservation decisions worldwide, said Red Hen Systems President and Founder Neil Havermale. Red Hen has long been at the forefront of geospatial imaging and our clients are doing exciting things with our imaging and video technology to prove that changes are occurring in sensitive ecosystems.

Monitoring Mangrove Forests in Central America

The non-profit environmental organization CAVU develops aerial photographs and documentaries aimed at educating people about the value of natural resources in Central America. CAVU uses Red Hen Systems products to photograph and film key areas of ecological interest in Costa Rica and Panama and encourage governments to make better make conservation management decisions.

Using Red Hen Systems VMS-333 and software, CAVU  accurately geotags video shot from aerial platforms during flight. The VMS-333 embeds geospatial data every second to optimize versatility and accurate data logging. This data is then translated to a mapping interface that can be used for a variety of conservation applications.

In the Gaaondoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica and Panama, CAVU conducted aerial surveys of mangrove and reef habitats to document changes. The group delivered more than 3,500 images to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to develop analytical maps of the area.

In Palo-Verde National Park in Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province, four years of flight missions gathered data to help land managers accurately measure the extent of invasive vegetation damaging the wetlands. The Savegre River Watershed project in association with local NGO ASANA focuses on helping local communities within the watershed manage their lands sustainably.¨¨CAVU looked to Red Hen to elevate our ability to capture high quality aerial imagery that would influence conservation management decisions in the Americas, said Executive Director Michele Gangaware.

Tracking Baby Sea Turtles

The Sea to Shore Alliance, a Florida group working to protect and conserve coastal ecosystems, also relies on Red Hen Systems technology in its work.

To monitor sea turtle migration and focus on hatchlings in the earliest stage of life, the group flies an airplane on moonless nights with a video camera, light meter and the VMS-333 to research the types of lighting on the beach.

The collected data allows wildlife managers to connect images with lighting data to better make decisions that protect these endangered animals. Executive Director Dr. James Powell said, It makes a very powerful tool for managers to be able to assess the problem.

Beach lighting can cause sea turtle hatchlings to crawl away from, instead of towards, the ocean, leading to death. State and federal regulators need a standardized method for determining beach lighting hotspots to help manage and correct problem areas. Sea to Shore Alliance has created a breakthrough method of measuring, mapping, and recording beach lighting levels. Through a 2009 grant from the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Sea to Shore developed the unique system that allows light data to be collected through aerial surveys using geo-referenced technology, or Red Hen system, combined with a specialized spot light metering system. A 2011 grant from the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund allowed the group to aerially map coastal lighting from Merritt Island, Fla., to Key Largo, Fla., and provide that data to wildlife managers to better protect sea turtle hatchlings.

About Red Hen Systems

Founded in 1997, Fort Collins, Colo.-based Red Hen Systems is rapidly bridging dynamic markets from conservation to energy, from military to transportation, and from utilities to satellite imagery. Red Hen goes beyond basic data collection and GIS image applications by providing customized mapping software and hardware for digital video and audio; servicing, educating, and training a variety of clients in relevant GIS markets.  No matter how complex the issue or technical the situation, Red Hen can provide on-site or off-site guidance to help clients get the most out of the technology they need. Learn more about Red Hen at:

About CAVU

Founded in 2004, CAVU is a non-profit dedicated to helping solve complex problems related to the management and conservation of natural resources.  Using advanced technology and an aerial platform, CAVU captures, analyzes, and shares data to inform better conservation management decisions. CAVU believes that when people are informed and engaged, healthy societies and renewable natural resources thrive. Learn more at:

About Sea to Shore Alliance

Sea to Shore Alliance works to protect and conserve our world's fragile coastal ecosystems and the endangered species that call them home. Our project areas are broad but they all focus on one of three key species: manatees, sea turtles, and right whales. Sea to Shore Alliance combines the technical expertise of trained ecologists and biologists with the passion and enthusiasm of citizen volunteers to educate the public, protect endangered species, and conserve our coastal environments for both people and animals. Learn more at:



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