The Tour de Turtles is kind of like the Tour de France but not as fast. But that’s OK because as the project boasts, “saving sea turtles is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Since 2008, the Sea Turtle Conservancy has organized a three-month marathon that tracks sea turtle migration using satellite technology. The turtles leave their nesting beaches in Florida and head to their foraging grounds. The turtles “compete” to swim the furthest distance and this year 17 turtles will participate.
One of them is Maisy, a hard-shell sea turtle. She’s competing to raise awareness about fibropapillomatosis, a herpes-like virus that afflicts sea turtles. She was rescued nearly a year ago by Turtle Hospital and treated with multiple tumor removals, antibiotics and a healthy diet. Maisy is the first of nine hard-shell turtles to receive a satellite transmitter. She’s expected to be released by the end of July.
Other turtles include Freckles, a leatherback swimming to end beach erosion; Tamarind, swimming to raise awareness about plastic debris; and Hope, whose journey aims to bring attention to ending light pollution.
The mission of the research project is a more comprehensive understanding of sea turtles, which spend 90 percent of their life underwater. By tracking the turtles who travel up to thousands of miles between beaches, scientists can get a better grasp of what the creatures do when humans aren’t around to observe them.
The Tour de Turtles race begins the same time every year on August 1 and ends on October 31.
If you liked this story, check out this adorable baby sea turtle venture out for its first swim.
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