Date: August 21, 2008
Contact: Rocio Johnson or David Godfrey
This year’s Tour de Turtles marathon is now underway, but Tropical Storm Fay might muddy the waters for Lumiere and Millana, two sea turtle competitors in the path of the storm.
These two turtles, along with six others, are competing in the first annual Tour de Turtles marathon. Using satellite-tracking technology, Tour de Turtles will follow four species of sea turtles as they travel from their respective nesting beaches to unknown feeding grounds, with the goal of being the first to complete the 2,620 km (1,628 mile) marathon.
After being released on Aug. 1st from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort in Florida, Lumiere, a loggerhead sea turtle, began heading south along Florida’s east coast. Having traveled about 475 km, or 295 mi, she is now swimming close to the Florida Keys in the tail-end of the storm.
Millana, a leatherback sea turtle, was fitted with a satellite-transmitter on the Caribbean coast of Panama in early June. Since the start of the marathon, she has traveled north 201 km, or 125 mi, into the Gulf of Mexico, just off Florida’s west coast, in search of her favorite meal, jellyfish. Tropical Storm Fay now seems to be turning in her direction.
“Although active sea turtles swim to the ocean’s surface every few minutes to breathe,” said David Godfrey, executive director of Caribbean Conservation Corporation, “we expect that these wise mariners are weathering the storm safely.”
Sea turtle scientists speculate that inactive sea turtles can stay underwater for at least two hours without surfacing for air. This ability can prove to be invaluable during bad weather, helping to safeguard turtles from the worst of any storm.
While sea turtles face many threats to their survival, they have lived for millions of years, battling with tropical storms and hurricanes for much longer than humans. Their continued survival is a great indication that Lumiere and Millana will carry on their marathon migrations.
It will be interesting to see if Tropical Storm Fay will slow their travels, at least for a couple of days. To track the turtles in the path of the storm and learn more about Tour de Turtles, visit www.tourdeturtles.org.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy, formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization based in Florida with offices and projects in several other locations. The Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest and most accomplished sea turtle organization in the world. Since its founding in 1959, the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s work has greatly improved the survival outlook for several species of sea turtles. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has as its mission the protection of sea turtles and the habitats upon which they depend. To achieve its mission, the Sea Turtle Conservancy uses research, habitat protection, public education, community outreach, networking and advocacy as its basic tools. These tools are applied in both international and domestic programs focusing on geographic areas that are globally important to sea turtle survival. For more information, visit the STC website atwww.conserveturtles.org or call (352) 373-6441.