A team of Indigenous rangers is being trained to use drones to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers will also use the high-tech equipment to survey 22,500 hectares of country around Archer Point, near Cooktown in far north Queensland's Cape York.
It is the first time an Indigenous ranger group in Queensland has received certification from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to use drones commercially.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority's (GBRMPA) drone pilot Andrew Denzin has been training three rangers at the Archer Point site and said they have recently completed their first maiden mission.
He said a tiny camera fitted to the 1.3-kilogram drone would help rangers to view areas never seen before.
"It will allow them to map their country in greater detail and monitor any changes over time," Mr Denzin said.
"A drone can support a range of environmental monitoring activities, including surveys of marine debris, seagrass beds, coral reefs, beach erosion, mangroves as well as turtle and dugong activity and seabird populations."
PHOTO: Ranger Mick Hale tests the drone. (Supplied: Gus Burrows)
The Archer Point site was chosen because it is considered a "marine highway" for several endangered species of turtles on their way to Raine Island — one of the largest turtles nesting sites in the world, off the far north Queensland coast.
Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers manager Mick Hale said he was excited about the program.
"It's really going to help us with our environmental work, being able to get to areas that we can't access by vehicle and sometimes by boat," Mr Hale said.
"If we can just fly over and have a look at what's happening after cyclone events, erosion on beaches, it's really going to be beneficial for everyone."
Mr Hale also said they would use the technology to record cultural heritage sites.
Mr Denzin said using drones to monitor the reef and map the surrounding country was cheaper than more traditional methods.
"It costs $1,000 to $2,000 per hour to hire a helicopter," he said.
"A drone costs around $1,200.
"It's basically a flying laptop with auto-pilot capabilities."