Category Archives: Tour de Turtles


Help STC Raise $40,000 on Giving Tuesday, November 28th!

On November 28th, Sea Turtle Conservancy is participating in our 5th annual Giving Tuesday! Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, is a day of charitable giving around the world. This special holiday was created as a day where everyone is encouraged to contribute to non-profit organizations in their communities and around the world. #GivingTuesday provides one day to make a HUGE difference. For the past four years, STC has been very fortunate to receive incredible support from our friends and donors. Last #GivingTuesday, STC supporters raised over $40,000 in one day to support STC’s Florida InWater Project! In 2015, you helped raise nearly $30,000 for the Barrier Island Center’s education and community outreach programs.

STC asks for your help this year to support something close to our hearts, the Tour de Turtles. Started in 2008 by STC, the Tour de Turtles is a fun, educational journey through the science, research and geography of sea turtle migration using satellite telemetry. With help from sponsors and partners, this event follows the marathon migration of sea turtles, representing different species, from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Each year, sea turtles are tracked for approximately three months as they leave their respective nesting beaches and race to complete a turtle marathon. The Tour de Turtles competitors will swim with the goal of being the turtle to swim the furthest distance during the migration marathon. This fun, family-friendly event kicks off every July at the Barrier Island Center in Melbourne Beach, FL, with the live release of two satellite tagged sea turtles!

Help STC reach its goal of $40,000 to support Tour de Turtles educational events and sea turtle outreach by donating to the cause in one of four ways: online at www.conserveturtles.org/ GivingTuesday, by calling 352-373-6441 mailing a check with “Giving Tuesday” in the subject line, or through our Facebook campaign. Facebook is matching all Giving Tuesday gifts up to $50,000 per nonprofit! All checks received with Giving Tuesday in the subject line, will count towards the campaign, even after November 28th, 2017. Funds raised will be matched one to one up to $20,000 by STC’s Board of Directors. Can we count you in for #GivingTuesday?

Tour de Turtles Spotlight on the Race’s Biggest Competitors: The Leatherbacks

This year in our race to spread awareness, Tour De Turtles has 3 BIG competitors joining us all the way from Panama. Adult leatherbacks Calypso Blue V, Lady Aurelia, and Tortuga Turista join the race to shed some light on various issues affecting the sea turtle population.

Typical design of a turtle excluder device in a trawl net

TED in a trawl net

First we have Calypso Blue V who is swimming to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of commercial trawl fishing on sea turtles. More than 250,000 sea turtles are accidentally captured, harmed, or killed by fishermen in the U.S. alone each year. Trawling, which involves large nets being dragged behind one or more boats, poses such a serious threat due to its capacity to blindly catch all marine life in its path. While migrating through fishing areas, or feeding within those areas, sea turtles run the tremendous risk of being tangled within trawl nets, leading to possible injury or death. The implementation of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) can reduce turtle captures by 90%, but are not currently required in non-shrimp trawl fisheries. With the incredible help from Atlantis, Paradise Island, we hope to expand the use of TEDs in all trawl fisheries and further regulate the industry.

Lady AureliaOur next turtle, Lady Aurelia, is sponsored by the New England Cord Blood Bank to bring attention to the issues caused by invasive species. While sea turtles have many natural predators that help regulate the natural balance of the food chain, human development has brought rise to several unnatural predators that further endanger sea turtle populations. Trash left on the beach by humans attracts raccoons, stray dogs, or other non-native species in search for food; in turn, these animals may encounter a sea turtle nest or hatchlings and decide it a sufficient food source. Raccoons destroy tens of thousands of sea turtle eggs and hatchlings a year, making it one of the greatest causes of sea turtle mortality on Florida beaches. In Central America, dogs pose the greatest threat as many coastal villages allow them to run free where they can dig up several nests in one night, or even attack a nesting turtle. This problem can be solved with just some small steps us humans!


Tortuga Turista-pic.jpgTortuga Turista
is our last leatherback sea turtle from Panama. She, along with the tremendous support from her sponsors at the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, is joining the race to speak up about sustainable tourism. Tourism is an ever-growing industry in our increasingly globalized world. While it brings forth countless economic and social benefits, it does not come without its many environmental concerns. Of greatest concern to us, is the impact of coastal tourism on this fragile ecosystem and its multitude of wildlife, like sea turtles. Nesting habitat degradation, an increase in waste, rise in boat strikes, and an increase in illumination on beaches—which discourage possible nesting turtles— are only some of the negative impacts seen with a rise in tourism. Through education and proper planning and management, the impact can be greatly reduced.

Join us in supporting one of these amazing turtles and their important cause! Visit www.tourdeturtles.org today to cheer for your favorite turtle!

Tour de Turtles Competitor “Esperanza” from Cuba Spotted Nesting in Mexico!

Earlier this month, Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) was contacted by turtle colleagues in Mexico who had spotted a green turtle with a satellite transmitter on her back nesting in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It was our Esperanza from Cuba! After receiving photos from Mexico, STC was able to identify Esperanza by her flipper tag number (which is unique to only her) and her satellite transmitter.

esperanza2 nesting in mexico

Esperanza nesting in Mexico

This discovery is very important because it helps confirm a pattern our partners with the Cuban Marine Turtle Conservation Program have been observing recently based on flipper tags and genetics. It was the same area where they had seen several previous nesters from Cuba go.

But wait…

What are sea turtles that nested in CUBA doing nesting in MEXICO?? This is very unusual, and it suggests that sea turtles may not be as loyal to one beach as we thought! Most females return faithfully to the same beach each time they are ready to nest. Not only do they appear on the same beach, they often emerge within a few hundred yards of where they last nested!

One of the benefits of using satellite transmitters to track sea turtles is that it helps us determine turtles’ nesting site fidelity. Or in this case, lack of fidelity.

We will continue to watch Esperanza closely over these next few months and so can you! As part of the Tour de Turtles program, you can visit Esperanza’s tracking map to see where she travels next! /trackingmap.php?id=144 

Esperanza is a beautiful adult green sea turtle who was released with a satellite transmitter after nesting in Guanahacabibes Natural Park, Cuba on June 29, 2016. This turtle mama laid 152 eggs! She measured 107 cm in curved carapace (shell) length and 93 cm in curved carapace width. Esperanza, which means “hope in Spanish,” was named by her sponsors at SEA LIFE Trust and is participating in the 2016 Tour de Turtles migration marathon.

Screenshot of Esperanza's tracking map.

Screenshot of Esperanza’s tracking map.

To learn more about Esperanza and the rest of our Tour de Turtles competitors, visit www.TourdeTurtles.org

 

Tour de Turtles Sponsor Spotlight – Ripley’s Aquariums

Sea Turtle Conservancy is excited to have our friends from Ripley’s Aquariums sponsor a turtle in this year’s Tour de Turtles for the third year in a row! Last year, Ripley’s sponsored a loggerhead turtle named Shelley who was released from the Barrier Island Center (BIC) in Melbourne Beach. Shelley  swam 761 km and came in 2nd place in the People’s Choice Award Competition! This year, Ripley’s sponsored turtle will be released from the BIC on Sunday, August 2nd and her name is…. MYRTLE!

Ripleys Myrtle

To decide on a name for their turtle, each of the three Ripley’s Aquariums submitted a name. Those names were then voted on by Ripley’s fans. More than 6,000 online votes were received and Myrtle (submitted by Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach) was chosen as the winner! During this year’s race, Myrtle will be swimming to raise awareness about the threat of plastic debris.

For more than 90 years, Ripley Entertainment, Inc. has entertained visitors around the world, with more than 90 attractions in 10 countries. Ripley Entertainment’s three aquariums in Myrtle Beach, SC, Gatlinburg, TN, and Toronto, Canada have educated millions of visitors. In the next decade, Ripley’s plans to open more aquariums in tourist markets throughout North America and the world.

MB-TURTLELEFTRipley’s mission is to provide an immersive experience into the aquatic world while fostering education, conservation and research. The three aquariums are each home to more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures such as sting rays, sharks and jellyfish, which entertain, inspire and encourage visitors to respect and protect the waters of the world.

Each of the Ripley’s Aquariums are home to non-releasable green sea turtles that swim alongside sharks, moray eels and fish. There is one turtle at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, one at Ripley’s Aquarium of Gatlinburg and two at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. All four turtles receive consistent and excellent care overseen by Dr. Robert George, Ripley’s Chief of Veterinary Services. Ripley’s sea turtle exhibits help educate the public and raise awareness about the threats that sea turtles face.

The past two Ripley’s turtles in the Tour de Turtles race have raised awareness about the dangers sea turtles face from longline fisheries. The turtles, attracted to the bait, get caught on the hooks used to catch fish. Loggerheads face higher risk to longline fisheries than most species of sea turtles because of their feeding habits.

Ripley's sponsored turtle Shelley is released from the BIC in 2014.

Ripley’s sponsored turtle Shelley is released from the BIC in 2014.

Ripley’s is currently involved in numerous conservation efforts such as the AZA’s Party for the Planet/Earth Day Celebration and Species Survival Program, as well as participation in International Coastal Cleanup and other local community cleanups. Ripley’s Aquarium Conservation Team is partnering with the North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol to help monitor sea turtle nests along previously unmonitored portions of the beach. Other actions include partnership with the organization Ocean Wise to support sustainable seafood and efforts to reduce in-building energy and water usage.

One of Ripley’s Aquariums main goals is to promote conservation and protection of marine wildlife, and Tour de Turtles is an excellent way to achieve this goal! Ripley’s especially feels that it is important to support sea turtle conservation efforts and sees Tour de Turtles as a way to engage and educate guests about sea turtles.

STC would like to thank Ripley’s Aquariums for its continued support of our Tour de Turtles program!

Tour de Turtles Sponsor Spotlight – Pacsafe

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) pacsafe logo2is excited to welcome new turtle sponsor Pacsafe to the Tour de Turtles (TdT) marathon this year! Pacsafe is sponsoring a green turtle who will be tagged and released from Tortuguero, Costa Rica in July. Along with their turtle competitor sponsorship, Pacsafe recently launched the Pacsafe Turtle Fund which will also provide support for the TdT educational program.

Outpac Designs Limited, the makers of Pacsafe, was established in 1998 by two Australian friends who traveled all over the world. Their own experiences and those of the travelers they met convinced them of the need for secure travel gear. From there, the eXomesh anti-theft technology was born, which formed the award-winning Pacsafe anti-theft backpack protector, complete with turtle logo.

Pacsafe’s creators were initially inspired by the sea turtle and its independent global wanderings. Today, Pacsafe’s Turtle Fund works with local communities at grass roots levels to preserve the sea turtle, protect its natural habitats, focus on breeding programs and increase awareness for these majestic creatures.

Pacsafe's official turtle mascot, Pawi.

Pacsafe’s official turtle mascot, Pawi.

“As a company, we believe in sustainability and doing everything we can to work with local communities to ensure the sea turtle doesn’t become extinct,” said Magnus McGlashan, Managing Director for Pacsafe.

After the fund was launched in May 2014, it worked to provide funds for sea turtle conservation projects around the world that support endangered turtle species. Pacsafe chose to support three sea turtle projects in 2015, including the Tour de Turtles, which were chosen for their innovative approaches to turtle conservation, research and education.

“We loved how Tour de Turtles makes sea turtle conservation educational and fun, while making it accessible to a greater audience and younger generation,” McGlashan said.

Pacsafe has chosen to name its turtle competitor “Pawikan.” McGlashan explained that Pawikan means ‘sea turtle,’ in Tagalog, the language spoken in much of the Philippines. Pawikan is also the official name of the turtle featured in the Pacsafe logo that was selected five years ago in a competition.

Photo by:  Lucas Meers

Photo by: Lucas Meers

Pacsafe hopes to engage its staff, distributors, retailers and customers all over the world with the excitement of the TdT race and its mission. McGlashan said that Pacsafe is very excited about being a part of the program and following its sponsored turtle throughout her adventures.

“We can’t wait to see where [she] wanders!” McGlashan said.

STC would like to thank Pacsafe for helping our cause! You will be able to track Pawikan and her turtle friends online at www.tourdeturtles.org starting August 2nd! Good luck, Pawikan!

Second-grade students raise money for sea turtles through Read-A-Thon

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Second-grade students from Muller Elementary Magnet School learning about sea turtles and the various threats they face.

Second-grade students from Muller Elementary Magnet School in Tampa, Fla. recently donated nearly $190 to STC after participating in a read-a-thon.

Back in September 2014, Linda Grady, Muller Elementary’s media specialist, started giving lessons to the school’s second graders about sea turtles and the threats they face. During one lesson, the classes played a sea turtle survival game where some students were “threats,” such as fishing nets and oil spills, and other students were “sea turtles” trying to swim across the room. Also, each of the three classes that participated in the lessons adopted a turtle during the 2014 Tour de Turtles marathon and regularly checked its progress.

Linda Grady, Muller Elementary’s media specialist, and second-grade students track turtles during the 2014 Tour de Turtles marathon.

Linda Grady, Muller Elementary’s media specialist, and second-grade students tracking sea turtles during the 2014 Tour de Turtles marathon.

With the students already curious, it made perfect sense to create a community service project to benefit sea turtles. Before the read-a-thon, which took place in January 2015, students asked friends and family to sponsor their reading efforts. Sponsors gave donations to the student based on how many books he or she read, and the proceeds were donated directly to STC.

During the two-week event, the 52 students who participated read a combined 533 books, and one student in particular read an impressive 24 books! The grand total raised by the students for their reading efforts was $189.37.

Grady said the read-a-thon experience was rewarding for both students and teachers, and she would certainly host another project such as this in the future.

point     books     read

Tour de Turtles 2014: And the Winner is….

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2014 TOUR de TURTLES MARATHON WINNER, LEATHERBACK PANAMA JACK AND HER SPONSORS AT TURTLE & HUGHES, INC!

TdT Marathon Winner Panama Jack

TdT Marathon Winner Panama Jack

There was no shortage of excitement in this year’s Tour de Turtles (TdT) marathon! This was the seventh consecutive year that Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) followed the migration of 11 sea turtles as part of the TdT and we are continually amazed by the unending support and enthusiasm shown for our turtle “competitors!”

Melba2014-07-27 061-XLThe 2014 TdT included live turtle releases in Panama, Costa Rica, Nevis and Florida. This year was the first time that a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle competed in the TdT. ‘Pine Tyme‘, an 80 pound sub-adult loggerhead, was spotted struggling on the surface unable to dive and was brought to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL for treatment. She was released from Sombrero Beach, The Florida Keys and marked STC’s first ever release in the Florida Keys.

Before releasing each turtle, STC scientists attached a satellite transmitter to their shell using turtle-safe epoxy or fiberglass resin. The transmitters allowed STC and the public to track the turtles as they migrated from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. After three months of friendly competition, we have our winners, along with “updates from the field” from the turtle competitors!

TDT Leaderboard FINAL

Distance Race:
WINNER – Panama Jack, 3936 km, Team Turtle & Hughes, Inc.
2nd – Calypso Blue III, 2685 km, Team Atlantis Resort
3rd – Esperanza, 1679 km, Team Treadright & Contiki Holidays
4th – Estrella, 1549 km, Team Sea Turtle Conservancy
5th – Elsa, 1445 km Team Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
6th – Melba, 1226 km, Team Turtle Tag www.helpingseaturtles.org
7th – Shelley, 761 km Team Ripley’s Aquariums
8th – Pine Tyme, 684 km Team Turtle Hospital
9th – Anna, 672 km, Team Disney’s Vero Beach Resort & Disney’s Animal Programs
10th – Coco, 593 km & 
11th – Sugar, 517 km, both Team Four Seasons Resort Nevis

People's Choice WINNER

 

People’s Choice Award: 

WINNER – Calypso Blue III
2nd – Shelley
3rd – (TIE) Esperanza and Panama Jack
5th – Pine Tyme
6th – Elsa
7th – Coco
8th – Estrella
9th – Anna

 

Updates from our competitors:

1ST PLACE – PANAMA JACK
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Punta Rincon Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Turtle & Hughes, Inc.
Distance traveled: 3936 km.
Update from the Field: Hey everyone, Panama Jack here! Good golly, I just can’t believe I won the Tour de Turtles! I was just splishing and splashing all over the place trying to spread the word about the importance of sea turtle friendly lighting. After I left Punta Rincon Beach in Panama, I made my way over to Mexico, where I heard there were lots of yummy jellyfish for me to snack on! As you can see, I’m a pretty big girl so it’s important that I eat lots and lots of jellyfish to maintain all this energy! Now that the marathon is over, I think I’ll just hang out in the Gulf of Mexico enjoying a nice, belly-filling buffet! Thanks for cheering me on!

P1000449 - Copy2ND PLACE – CALYPSO BLUE III
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Soropta Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Atlantis
Distance traveled: 2685 km.
Update from the field: Calypso Blue III checking in! Phew, I’ve already swam over a thousand miles but I’m not stopping anytime soon! I spent most of the marathon cruising through the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. I even managed to stop by Bourbon Street in New Orleans to have some fun! Throughout my travels, I’ve been telling all my marine friends about how excited I am to have my migration tracked and swim for the cause of commercial trawl fisheries. Louisiana is the largest producer of shrimp in the U.S. which means there are tons of shrimp nets in this very area. Unfortunately, Louisiana hasn’t fully enforced the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on their nets. I had to get stern with a couple of fishermen but quickly befriended some that agreed to compromise with me! I think I’m going to head out of the area now just to be safe… Thanks to my friends at Atlantis for always having my shell!

3RD PLACE – ESPERANZAEsperanza2
Species: Green
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: Contiki Holidays & TreadRight Foundation
Cause: Egg Harvest for Consumption
Distance Traveled: 1679 km.
Update from the Field: Hola, mis amigos! Esperanza’s back to check in with my loyal fans and give a shout out to my sponsors at Contiki and TreadRight Foundation. Without their help and the support of my fans, there’s no way I would’ve found the speed to swim all the way up the ranks from 7th place to 3rd place! Afterall, don’t forget that esperanza is Spanish for hope and – against all odds -I made it onto the winners’ podium! Even though I had quite the rough start to the race with a poacher digging up my nest and stealing my eggs, my friends at STC were able to save the day and rebury my precious eggs, which just hatched in September! Thanks to everyone who cheered me on and helped raise support for the many threats my species face, especially poaching. I couldn’t have done it without you! Adios!

4TH PLACE – ESTRELLA
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC)
Distance Traveled: 1549 km.
Update from the Field: Greetings, humans. Estrella here. According to my calculations, I did not swim far enough to qualify for the Tour de Turtles winner podium. Nonetheless, it’s been quite the journey! Throughout my travels, I’ve been collecting research and data off the coast of Nicaragua and what I’ve found was quite peculiar… The number of turtles that I encountered in the area was very limited. These findings may be due to the fact that it is actually legal in parts of Nicaragua to capture and consume turtles as they’re apart of the natives’ diet. Raising awareness about such issues and enforcing policies will hopefully help get my fellow turtles (and me!) off the endangered species list. Well, I’m going to kick it into high gear now and try to swim past Nicaragua… I certainly wouldn’t want to end up as someone’s dinner!

5TH PLACE – ELSAElsa-Turtle2014(15)
Release site: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
Sponsor: Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
Distance Traveled: 1445 km.
Update from the Field: Hello there peasants! Yes, I am Elsa, named after the queen from Disney’s Frozen. I’m here to report back to my original kingdom at Disney’s Vero Beach to discuss some of the royal duties I’ve partaken in since I left my sand castle in July. My duties took me from Vero Beach to Key Largo to Cuba, and I recycled and picked up trash and other marine debris along the way. It’s only right that the Queen pays her respects to the ocean. Naturally, I ran into some issues when trying to eat dinner the other night and mistook a plastic grocery bag for a delicious jellyfish. This is a situation that could be avoided by recycling plastics and using reusable bags. Wish me luck, I’m off to conquer my next kingdom… The Bahamas!

6TH PLACE – MELBAMelba2014-07-27 064-XL
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Melbourne Beach, FL
Sponsor: FL Sea Turtle License Plate
Distance Traveled: 1226 km.
Update from the Field: Aloha dudes and dudettes! Melba here. Because of the gnarly waves I tried to catch while swimming, I accidentally moved all the way down from 3rd place to 6th place… But the journey was absolutely tubular! I met some fellow surfer chicks along the way and took the opportunity to teach them about a totally important cause—water quality, dude! They promised me they would work together to try and prevent oil spills and urban run-off caused by fertilizers and other chemicals so that we can safely enjoy the stellar surf for years to come! But I’m off to celebrate my Tour de Turtles success with some chill loggerhead ladies… I might even buy myself one of those rad sea turtle license plates for my carapace! Catch ya on the flip side dudes!

7TH PLACE – SHELLEYShelley2014-07-27 043-XL
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge
Sponsor: Ripley’s Aquariums
Distance Traveled: 761 km.
Update from the Field: Hello darlings! You all know me as Shelley, the turtle with levels of glamour that Vogue couldn’t even handle. I won’t lie, being without my glam squad and entourage these past few months was rough but I knew my migration was raising awareness about the issue of commercial longline fisheries, and that is important. I think of the ocean as my runway and plan to continue swimming through it with grace and poise. How can I do that if I have to worry about being caught up in longline fishing? Luckily, I didn’t come across any during my travels, probably because my fabulous sponsors at Ripley’s Aquariums have been cheering me on. Even though I didn’t win the race, I’m hoping there is still a chance at a tiara. Ciao, bellas!

8TH PLACE – PINE TYMEPine Tyme TdT page
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Marathon, Florida Keys
Sponsor: The Turtle Hospital
Distance Traveled: 684 km.
Update from the Field: For a previously injured turtle, I’ve come a long way! Mostly thanks to my great friends at The Turtle Hospital. After gaining my strength back, I traveled over 400 miles from Marathon, Florida to my current location right outside the Dry Tortugas National Park. This national park is about 70 miles off the coast of Key West and was established to protect the island and marine ecosystems. I had to duck out of the way of several speeding boats along the way so now I’m just trying to steer clear of the ferries touring the place. As a rehabilitated turtle who was also the last to enter the race, I knew I couldn’t afford another setback like a boat strike so now I’m just trying to find a nice, calm place to feed. I honestly can’t even believe I made it this far when just several months ago I was gassy and floating bottom up at The Turtle Hospital! Thanks to everyone who helped cheer me on during the marathon!

9TH PLACE – ANNAAnna
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Disney Vero Beach Resort (DVBR)
Sponsor: Disney Animal Programs & DVBR
Distance Traveled: 672 km.
Update from the Field: Hi friends, Anna here! I successfully made my way all the way down the Florida coastline and decided to spend some time in Florida Keys. Everything during the marathon went quite swimmingly, except for this one huge storm that got me a little off track last month. I ended up along the shores of Miami, which was a very interesting place indeed. One thing I noticed is that their beachfront hotels and clubs had so many bright lights on, you could probably see them from space! I knew better and wasn’t distracted by their glow but let’s just hope my friends don’t end up drawn towards the lights when they come up to nest! After my little visit to South Beach, I got worn out from signing autographs for all my Frozen fans and set off towards Key West to relax where I plan to stay. Check back with me soon!

10TH PLACE – COCOCoco TDT
Species: Hawksbill
Release Site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
Sponsor: Four Seasons – Nevis
Distance Traveled: 593 km.
Update from the Field: Oh, hello there. I didn’t realize this interview was going to be published. I don’t really do well with large groups. Sorry, erm… How about a little joke to break the ice? So, um, I’m on my way to St. Kitts from Nevis and I come across what I thought were some fellow hawksbills. I’m shy enough as it is so I really had to work up the nerve to approach these guys. I try to make conversation, which is rare for me, and I’m getting no reply. I start to get more nervous as their silence lengthens. Was it something I said? Do I have a piece of sponge in my teeth? Finally, I realize I’d been talking to floating coconuts the whole time… That embarrassing encounter certainly did nothing to help me get over my social anxieties. I was also hoping for a confidence boost by winning the Tour de Turtles race, but then I just got so nervous and I decided to stay close to home where I’m most comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with last place, especially since I know the great people at Four Seasons Nevis will always cheer for me, no matter what!

11TH PLACE – SUGARsugar
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
Sponsor: Four Seasons – Nevis
Distance Traveled: 517 km.
Update from the Field: Hi friends! My name is Sugar and I’m the sweetest hawksbill you’ll ever meet! During the Tour de Turtles, I got some slack from a few mean turtles about my slow pace but I couldn’t help that I enjoyed the beautiful waters of the Caribbean so much! Who said there’s anything wrong about being on island time? The water near St. Kitts is especially warm, I just hope it’s not due to climate change! I promise to do some investigating while I’m here and raise awareness about this potential threat. Now excuse me while I go enjoy a deliciously sweet drink with my friends at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis to celebrate the end of Tour de Turtles!

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Sea Turtle Conservancy would like to give a big THANK YOU to all of our great turtle sponsors for this year’s Tour de Turtles — Four Seasons Resort, NevisDisney’s Animal ProgramsDisney’s Worldwide Conservation FundDisney’s Vero Beach ResortTurtle & Hughes, Inc.Atlantis ResortRipley’s AquariumsContiki HolidaysThe TreadRight FoundationThe Turtle Hospital — and Florida’s Sea Turtle License Plate.

TdT BIC

Atlantis, Paradise Island Sponsors Tour de Turtles for Fourth Consecutive Year!

AtlantisSea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is excited to have our friends at Atlantis, Paradise Island sponsor a turtle in this year’s Tour de Turtles for the fourth year in a row! The turtles they sponsored the last two years, Calypso Blue I and Calypso Blue II, won their respective marathons and traveled over 6,400 miles both years. Atlantis is hoping the streak will continue this year with its turtle, leatherback Calypso Blue III.

The lucky name originated from a Facebook naming contest. Debra Erickson, executive director of the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, said if Calypso Blue III wins this year “it would be like winning the Triple Crown.”

P1000449 - Copy

Calypso Blue III is swimming to raise awareness of commercial trawl fisheries.

Atlantis is a resort and water park in The Bahamas that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It encompasses 14 lagoons and eight million gallons of salt water that contain more than 50,000 aquatic animals as well as caves, coral formations and underwater ruins that showcase many types of marine life from sea turtles and sharks to manta rays and moray eels.

Atlantis uses its vast collection for education and conservation efforts through the Atlantis Blue Project. “The Atlantis Blue Project started over seven years ago with the goal of using scientific research, education and public outreach to help protect our oceans,” Erickson said. “The project’s focus today is saving sea species and their habitats throughout The Bahamas and the Caribbean seas.”

Atlantis’ involvement in Tour de Turtles is part of that conservation effort. Erickson said that after 15 years of sea turtle display, breeding and conservation, Atlantis began to look for a way to expand its sea turtle conservation efforts through both research and public education and communications.

It was determined that Tour de Turtles was the perfect program to reach those goals, according to Erickson, because it “enables scientists to collect invaluable data on sea turtle migration while at the same time educating the public on the challenges that sea turtles face from ocean debris to boat strikes.”

Atlantis has continued to sponsor a turtle in the marathon for the past four years because of the program’s high level of engagement, Erickson said. It enables many individuals to follow sea turtles’ migration on a daily basis and spread the information through social media as well as allowing scientists to use the data collected to better understand and manage sea turtle species.

P1000422

Calypso Blue III was released on May 27, 2014 from Sorpota Beach, Panama.

Erickson said, “We are looking forward to this year’s Tour de Turtles and seeing the results at the end of the race. The program allows Atlantis to continue its commitment to sea turtle conservation and gives us an opportunity to engage our guests and involve them in helping to preserve sea turtles.”

In addition to Tour de Turtles, Atlantis actively participates in other sea turtle conservation efforts. Each year, Atlantis’ Aquarists collect over 1,200 eggs laid by female turtles on its beach, place the eggs in replica nests at its Fish Hospital and release the young out on the beach once they hatch.

STC would like to thank Atlantis for its constant support! We can’t wait to see if Calypso Blue III carries on the winning streak.

Introducing the 2014 Tour de Turtles Competitors!

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) began its 2014 Tour de Turtles (TdT) with a live sea turtle release on July 27th at the Barrier Island Center, located in the heart of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach, Florida. The marathon is a fun and educational journey through the science of sea turtle migration using satellite telemetry. This year 12 turtles, who are each swimming to raise awareness about a sea turtle cause, are competing to see who will travel the farthest in the next three months.

Meet the competitors below!

Panama Jack

Name: Panama Jack
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Punta Rincon Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Turtle & Hughes, Inc.
Cause: Light pollution
Stats: 145.0 cm in curved carapace (shell) length and 108.0 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Returned and nested again on July 15.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Calypso Blue III

Name: Calypso Blue III
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Soropta Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Atlantis
Cause: Commercial Trawl Fisheries
Stats: 144.6 cm in curved carapace (shell) length and 108.0 cm curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Laid 53 fertile eggs and 36 yokeless eggs.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Esperanza

Name: Esperanza
Species: Green
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: TreadRight Contiki
Cause: Egg Poaching
Stats: 104.9 cm in curved carapace
Fun Fact: The morning after she laid her eggs, her nest was poached and eggs stolen. Luckily, the police caught the poacher and returned the eggs to STC’s team, who quickly and carefully reburied them in a new location.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Estrella

Name: Estrella
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: STC
Cause: Illegal Shell Trade
Stats: 80.9 cm in curved carapace length
Fun Fact: Estrella is the first hawksbill from Tortuguero to compete in the TdT!
Read my full bio, adopt me, or view my migration map!

Melba

Name: Melba
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Melbourne Beach, FL
Sponsor: FL Sea Turtle License Plate
Cause: Water Quality
Stats: 101.8 cm in curved carapace length, 88.5 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Melba ranks in the Top 5 largest loggerheads STC has ever released and has one of the largest heads.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Shelley

Name: Shelley
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Melbourne Beach, FL
Sponsor: Ripley’s Aquariums
Cause: Commercial Longline Fisheries
Stats: 89.9 cm in curved carapace length and 85.3 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Shelley is the 22nd loggerhead STC has released from the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge!
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Anna

Name: Anna
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort (DVBR)
Sponsor: Disney’s Animal Programs & DVBR
Cause: Light Pollution
Stats: 84.7 cm in curved carapace length, 76.0 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Anna is named after the character from Disney’s “Frozen.”
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Elsa

Name: Elsa
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
SponsorDisney Worldwide Conservation Fund
Cause: Marine Debris
Stats: 100.4 cm in curved carapace length, 90.7 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Elsa is named after the character from Disney’s “Frozen.”
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Coco

Name: Coco
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
SponsorFour Seasons Resort Nevis
Cause: Illegal Shell Trade
Stats: 88.9 cm in curved carapace length
Fun Fact: Coco’s name was selected and voted on by Four Seasons’ Instagram and Facebook followers.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Sugar

Name: Sugar
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
SponsorFour Seasons Resort Nevis
Cause: Climate Change
Stats: 82.0 cm in curved carapace length, 76.5 cm curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Sugar already had flipper tags when STC found her nesting. It was determined that she was originally tagged by the Nevis Turtle Group in 2007!
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Pine Tyme

Name: Pine Tyme
Species: Loggerhead (sub-adult)
Release site: Sombrero Beach, FL
SponsorThe Turtle Hospital
Cause: Boat Strikes
Stats: 80 lbs.
Fun Fact: Pine Tyme is a rehabbed turtle who was rescued near Big Pine Key, FL. She is currently being treated for severe gas in her intestines, which prohibits her from diving for food.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

11 Sea Turtles Set Off on Migratory Journey as Part of 7th Annual Tour de Turtles

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) kicked off its seventh annual Tour de Turtles (TdT) with a live sea turtle release on July 27 at the Barrier Island Center, located in the heart of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Loggerhead Melba was released in Florida on July 27, 2014

A crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered to watch as STC researchers released two adult female loggerhead sea turtles, named ‘Shelley’ and ‘Melba,’ into the ocean to begin their migrations. ‘Shelley’ was named by her sponsors at Ripley’s Aquariums while ‘Melba‘ was named via STC’s Facebook contest. Shelley and Melba are just two of 11 sea turtles representing four different species swimming in the TdT migration marathon, an annual program that conducts valuable research and raises public awareness about sea turtles.

The 2014 TdT included live turtle releases in Panama, Costa Rica, Nevis and Florida. The final release is on August 15 at Sombrero Beach, Fla. This year is the first time that a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle is competing in the TdT. ‘Pine Tyme‘, an 80 pound sub-adult loggerhead, was spotted struggling on the surface unable to dive and is now being treated at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. Upon recovery, Pine Tyme will be equipped with a satellite transmitter and released from Sombrero Beach, Fla. on August 15 at 1:00 p.m. This is also is STC’s first ever release in the Keys.

Green turtle Esperanza was released in Tortuguero on July 3, 2014

Green turtle Esperanza was released in Tortuguero on July 3, 2014

 

“This is the seventh year of the Tour de Turtles and we are thrilled with how the program has grown and gained popularity over the years,” said David Godfrey, executive director of STC. “More people are turning out for the live release events and logging onto the website to learn about these turtles than ever before. Not only do we have a diverse group of turtles this year, but also a very diverse group of sponsors supporting this educational program. It’s amazing to see the variety of businesses, from resorts, to lighting companies and aquariums, that come together to raise awareness for sea turtles.”

Before releasing each turtle, STC scientists attach a satellite transmitter to its shell using turtle-safe epoxy or fiberglass resin. The transmitters allow STC and the public to track the turtles as they migrate from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Turtle fans can follow the turtles’ migrations online at www.tourdeturtles.org, and cheer on on their favorite competitor while learning about some of the threats sea turtles face. Fans can support their favorite turtle through a virtual adoption or by making a pledge for each mile the turtle swims. The turtle who swims the farthest by October 31 will be crowned the winner of the ‘race’ while the turtle who raises the most money will be crowned the ‘People’s Choice Winner.’

Results from the 2013 Tour de Turtles. Who will win this year's race??

Results from the 2013 Tour de Turtles. Who will win this year’s race??

Some interesting facts about the 2014 Tour de Turtles:

‘Esperanza’, a green sea turtle sponsored by Contiki and the TreadRight Foundation, is swimming to raise awareness about the threat of egg harvesting for consumption. After she laid her eggs on July 3, 2014, it was discovered that her nest had been poached and her eggs stolen! Luckily, the local police were able to catch the poacher and return the eggs to STC’s team, who quickly and carefully reburied them in a new location. Hopefully we’ll see some green hatchlings erupting from Esperanza’s nest in September!

‘Sugar’, a hawksbill sponsored by Four Seasons Resort Nevis, already had flipper tags when STC found her nesting on Lovers Beach, Nevis. After looking up her tag number, STC was able to determine that she was first tagged by the Nevis Turtle Group in 2007. This was great news because it provided further evidence that sea turtles return to the same beach to nest.

‘Melba’, a loggerhead sponsored by the Sea Turtle Grants Program, ranks in the top five largest loggerheads STC has ever released! She also has one of the biggest heads, which is fitting as loggerheads get their name from their exceptionally large heads.

For a full list of turtle competitors and sponsors, visit the official website at www.tourdeturtles.org or head back to the blog tomorrow to meet all the turtles!

Contiki & TreadRight Sponsor Tour de Turtles

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is excited to introduce one of our newest Tour de Turtles competitors, Esperanza! Esperanza is an adult green sea turtle that will be outfitted with a satellite transmitter on July 4, 2014 in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, the most important nesting site of the endangered green sea turtle in the Western Hemisphere. She was named by her sponsors, Contiki Holidays and The TreadRight Foundation, via a Facebook contest. Esperanza is the Spanish word for “hope.”

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Green sea turtle participating in Tour de Turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Photo by Ralph Pace.

This is the first time Contiki and TreadRight have partnered with STC for the Tour de Turtles. This unique new partnership is multi-faceted and puts the spotlight on sea turtle conservation in popular tourism countries.

Contiki, a travel company that was started in 1962, offers travel tours in 46 countries to 18 – 35-year-olds. The TreadRight Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2008 by Contiki and other travel brands to encourage sustainable tourism among their brands and the places they visit.

Lauren McPhillips, public relations and partnership manager for Contiki, said sponsoring a turtle in Tour de Turtles was a simple decision for them because the program increases a sea turtle’s chance of long term survival and, “aids in enabling a greater understanding of these majestic sea creatures and their migration patterns.”

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Sunset in Costa Rica by Ben Brown.

In 2011, Contiki began Contiki Cares, which focuses on becoming a more sustainable organization by encouraging their travelers to respect and care for the places they visit so those places can be discovered for generations to come. They also partnered with environmental activist and documentary filmmaker Celine Cousteau.

According to McPhillips, “Contiki is obsessed with all things sun, sand and surf, and have made ocean conservation the focus for partnerships.”

McPhillips said Tortuguero is a popular stop for travelers who go on Contiki’s Costa Rica trip, and that it’s evident sea turtles are essential to Tortuguero. Both Contiki and TreadRight had recognized STC’s work in preserving the places they travel to for quite some time.

They also admired that STC creates opportunities for young, aspiring researchers and conservationists, she said.

Shannon Guihan, program director for TreadRight Foundation, said it was a combination of those things that made a partnership with STC “a perfect fit.”

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STC in Tortuguero. Photo by Seattle Dredge.

In honor of Earth Month this year, Contiki sent Cousteau along with 12 young storytellers to Tortuguero to explore the country’s beauty, learn about STC’s mission and tell the story of it all in their own ways. The group consisted of bloggers, writers, photographers and more who came from all over the world including countries like the Philippines, the United States and New Zealand.

During their trip, the group of storytellers regularly posted to various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their experience. They also put together an inspiring video documenting their weeklong visit to Costa Rica, highlighting STC’s work with sea turtles.

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Sea turtle eggs. Photo by Seattle Dredge.

Contiki has pledged to sponsor an additional turtle in Tour de Turtles if the documentary video reaches 250,000 views. If you haven’t checked out the video yet, you can watch it online at http://www.contiki.com/storytellers.

Since the Storytellers trip, every Contiki Tour that goes through Tortuguero will have the opportunity to adopt a turtle through STC.

In addition to sponsoring a Tour de Turtles competitor, Contiki and TreadRight also sponsored the research of a member of STC’s Research Assistantship Program.

McPhillips and Guihan said they are looking forward to seeing how their efforts aid in the research and survival of turtles like Esperanza and can’t wait to share the results with their travelers.

STC would like to thank Contiki and TreadRight for helping our cause!

Tour de Turtles 2013: A Full Recap

This year, Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Tour de Turtles tracked 13 sea turtles representing five species from five different locations: Florida, Tortuguero, Panama, Nevis, and Bermuda.

Distance Winner Calypso Blue II

Distance Winner Calypso Blue II

Calypso Blue II, a giant female leatherback from Panama, finished in first place in STC’s 6th annual Tour de Turtles Migration Marathon. She was sponsored by Atlantis Paradise Island and swam 2,836 miles in 97 days. She led the race almost the entire duration, and finished more than 800 miles ahead of the second place turtle, Panama Jackie. Fun fact: Calypso Blue II and Panama Jackie were both released from STC’s brand-new research site in Soropta Beach, Panama!

Rounding out the top three was a female loggerhead from Florida named Johnny, sponsored by John’s Island Real Estate Company. Johnny wasted no time heading straight south for the winter, and looks to be spending the holidays near Cuba. We’ve heard it’s nice there this time of year! The race for third place was a definite nail biter, as Johnny just barely edged out fellow loggerhead Carrie (sponsored by Disney’s Animal Programs and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort) in the last few weeks of the race. Johnny ended up finishing only 107 miles ahead of Carrie, who had to settle for fourth place.

causes winnerNot to be outdone, Carrie crushed the competition in the separate Causes Challenge, raising $1,500 for her cause of Light Pollution, and earning the title of Causes Challenge Winner. Fun fact: In a Tour de Turtles first, Carrie came back to Vero Beach to nest AGAIN, only two weeks after her original nesting. We know that the females will lay several clutches each season, but we have never documented a TdT loggerhead returning to nest after the start of Tour de Turtles! Good thing Carrie has read all those papers on turtles – she laid her eggs EXACTLY 14 days later. Her second nest was even within 1/2 mile of where she laid her original nest. Our friends with Disney’s Animal Programs also reported that Carrie’s first nest had 161 hatchlings– the largest loggerhead nest they’ve seen this year!

Other honorable mentions in the Causes Challenge also include Florida loggerheads Ripley (5th place) sponsored by Ripley’s Aquariums, who raised $1,100 for Water Quality and Claire (6th place) sponsored by Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund who raised $900 for Plastic Debris. Those loggerheads sure know how to work a crowd! Speaking of loggerheads, it looks like all of our loggerhead competitors are currently hanging out together in the Atlantic ocean not far from Cuba and the Bahamas. Wonder if they’re having a Tour de Turtles party?!

In 7th place was Mora, a green sea turtle released from Tortuguero, Costa Rica, who was named after Jairo Mora Sandoval, a Costa Rican biologist who was tragically killed in May while monitoring a sea turtle nesting beach south of Tortuguero. Some of you might recognize turtle Mora from the July page of our new 2014 Sea Turtle Scenes calendar. She’s become quite the celebrity since making her debut appearance in Tour de Turtles!

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In 8th place we had Cruz (sponsored by Shark Reef Aquarium), a green sea turtle released from Tortuguero, who was named after Guillermo “Billy” Cruz, STC’s first Vice President and recipient of the Archie Carr Lifetime Achievement Award, who passed away this summer. Cruz took her time “cruz-ing” along the coastlines of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, traveling 103 miles north of her release spot.

Did you know that both Mora and Cruz both have some amazing photos and videos on our Tour de Turtles website? They were taken by our Tortuguero Field Coordinator Ralph Pace!

caribelle nevis

Caribelle. (Photo by Four Seasons Resort Nevis)

Hawksbill turtles Banjo (9th place) and Caribelle (10th place) didn’t stray too far from their original release site near their sponsors at the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis. Caribelle only swam about 235 miles while it looks like Banjo spent her time island hopping in the Caribbean, swimming around St. Kitts, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Who can blame her! You can click here to watch a cool video from Banjo’s release.

Even though Tampa Red (sponsored by the Tampa Bay Green Consortium) came in 11th place in the race, her story is full of firsts! She was the first Kemp’s ridley and first rehab turtle to ever compete in TdT. She was rescued by the Florida Aquarium in March when she suffered from buoyancy issues caused by a red tide bloom. Red tide is an algal bloom that produces toxins which can be harmful to sea turtles, fish, birds, and other marine animals. After being rehabilitated, she was released from Bunche Beach, making her the first TdT competitor to be released on the West coast of Florida!

While it appears that juvenile green turtle Relay (sponsored by Turtle & Hughes, Inc.) came in last place in the race, he/she was actually participating in not one, but TWO marathon events! Relay came in first place as part of the Tour de Turtles Bermuda: Race on the Rock!The Bermuda competitor earning second place was juvenile green turtle Venti Anni (sponsored by RenaissanceRe). This was the second year STC held the Tour de Turtles Bermuda, an offshoot of the Bermuda Turtle Project, the world’s longest running in-water study of Bermuda’s turtles, conducted in partnership between STC and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.

STC would like to thank everyone who made the 2013 Tour de Turtles a great success. Nearly 5,000 people attended sea turtle releases in Florida, Costa Rica, Panama and Nevis. In addition, more than 9,600 people from 119 countries logged on to the Tour de Turtles website in just three months. We hope everyone enjoyed following these 13 turtles on their marathon migration adventures!

We’d also like to give a big thank to all of our wonderful sponsors: – Four Seasons Resort Nevis – Disney’s Animal Programs – Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund – Disney’s Vero Beach Resort – Atlantis Paradise Island – Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay – Ripley’s Aquariums – Tampa Bay Green Consortium – John’s Island Real Estate Company – Turtle & Hughes, Inc. – Sea Turtle Grants Program – Community Foundation for BrevardRockwell Collins – Boeing N.O.A.A. Florida D.E.P. – RenaissanceRe Bermuda Department of Conservation Services – Bermuda Zoological Society – Bermuda Turtle Project – Atlantic Conservation Partnership.

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Sponsor Spotlight: Turtle & Hughes, Inc.

Timing is everything. As the 2013 Tour de Turtles approached this summer, one juvenile green sea turtle was still left unsponsored.

It was late July, and Turtle & Hughes CEO Jayne Millard was visiting the Caribbean island of Nevis, coincidentally the very same weekend that Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) was there for a Tour de Turtles event, hosted by turtle sponsor Four Seasons Resort. Millard happened to come across the event as it attracted many spectators to the beach outside her hotel. Intrigued, she decided to meet with STC’s Executive Director David Godfrey, where she learned that one turtle and one cause remained without a sponsor. After hearing that the remaining cause was “light pollution,” Millard knew that Turtle & Hughes would make a perfect match for the last sponsor spot.

TdT release

Turtle & Hughes is a fourth generation family-owned business based in Linden, New Jersey and one of the nation’s largest electrical and industrial distributors. Established in 1923, the company partners with key manufacturers to serve the industrial, construction, commercial, electrical contracting, OEM, export and utility markets at 17 locations nationwide.

Turtle and Hughes logoSo, what does an electrical distributor have to do with sea turtles?

Other than its awesome name (named after one of its founders M. Berry Turtle) the turtle it chose to sponsor was swimming to raise awareness about “light pollution,” an issue that Turtle & Hughes felt it could have a hand in decreasing.

Light pollution is the interference of artificial lights along the beaches with sea turtle hatchlings. When sea turtles hatch, their instinct is to follow moonlight to help them find their way to the water. The artificial lights from commercial buildings, homes and streets can disorient hatchlings and lead them in the opposite direction, which often cause their demise.

Turtle & Hughes handles large lighting projects and has a separate division that performs energy-efficient lighting retrofits similar to those needed to protect sea turtles.  It decided to become a Tour de Turtles sponsor to advocate the need to change lighting systems along beaches.

“Turtle & Hughes joined the race to spread the word about sea turtle-friendly lights and fixtures,” Millard said. “In most cases, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to install new lighting that shields the turtle’s nesting grounds.”

STC Research Specialist Dan Evans applies a transmitter to Relay

STC Research & Technology Specialist Dan Evans applies a transmitter to Relay

“Relay,” a juvenile green sea turtle that was satellite tagged on August 7, 2013 in Bermuda, became Turtle & Hughes’ sponsored sea turtle. He was named after the company’s mascot.

Relay swam a total of 30 miles by the end of the Tour de Turtles race and in addition to Turtle & Hughes’ generous sponsorship, raised over $400 for the lighting pollution cause.

“Sponsoring Relay was a great opportunity for us to support a worthy cause and become a strong industry advocate for change,” Millard said.

Turtle & Hughes is working to help sea turtles in more ways than one. It recently collaborated with Philips Lighting to promote sea turtle-friendly lighting. As part of this promotion, Philips Lighting will donate a portion of HID lamp sales to STC, based on Turtle & Hughessales of their products.

Aside from supporting the survival of the sea turtle, Turtle & Hughes is also working on the reconstruction of the World Trade Center area. Its services include providing Power Distribution Project Management Services for Tower One (Freedom Tower), Tower Four, World Trade Center Chiller Plant and the Transportation Hub.

Jack Sinagra, President, Turtle & Hughes; Joel Eterovich, NE District Manager, Rockwell Automation; Lee Tschanz, VP, NA Sales, Rockwell Automation; Kumar Sokka, Sales Manager, Rockwell Automation, NY; Randy Roessle, VP, Turtle & Hughes; Don Georgakis, PD&AS, Turtle & Hughes; Andy Hoheisel, VP, NA Channel, Rockwell Automation; Jayne Millard, CEO, Turtle & Hughes; and Frank Millard, COO, Turtle & Hughes

Jack Sinagra, President, Turtle & Hughes; Joel Eterovich, NE District Manager, Rockwell Automation; Lee Tschanz, VP, NA Sales, Rockwell Automation; Kumar Sokka, Sales Manager, Rockwell Automation, NY; Randy Roessle, VP, Turtle & Hughes; Don Georgakis, PD&AS, Turtle & Hughes; Andy Hoheisel, VP, NA Channel, Rockwell Automation; Jayne Millard, CEO, Turtle & Hughes; and Frank Millard, COO, Turtle & Hughes

Turtle & Hughes is celebrating its 90th year in business.  It continues a strong tradition of dedication to customers by providing best solutions. Its motto, “First in the Long Run,” embodies its culture of innovation, service, and heritage.

STC would like to thank Turtle & Hughes for its support in this year’s Tour de Turtles race!

Green turtles released in Costa Rica as part of Tour de Turtles

In mid-July in Tortuguero, locals, tourists and media joined STC to watch the release of two green turtles freshly outfitted with satellite transmitters.  Not even a tropical storm on the second day could stop over 200 well-wishers from excitedly cheering on the new contestants in this year’s Tour de Turtles on-line migration event (www.tourdeturtles.org).

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There was a rare opportunity for people to see these beautiful creatures, aptly named Mora and Cruz, in the daylight and everyone here in Tortuguero has their fingers crossed that either one will be crowned the winner of this year’s Tour de Turtles ‘race!’

Sea Turtle Grants Program Supports Lighting Education and Satellite-Tracking Research

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) has received three grants awarded by Florida’s Sea Turtle Grants Program to support sea turtle-friendly lighting education and loggerhead migratory research.

Two of the grants focus on educating coastal residents in Florida about the impacts of beachfront lights to nesting females and sea turtle hatchlings and offering options for converting existing lights to amber LED fixtures that minimize impacts to sea turtles.

“It is important for people to see turtle-friendly lighting first-hand,” STC’s lighting specialist Karen Shudes said. “There are several myths about sea turtle-friendly lighting not being safe enough or bright enough, but these are simply not true.”

Artificial lights are a major threat to nesting sea turtles and hatchlings because 78% of Florida’s housing is located in coastal communities. These grants will help STC educate the public on the importance of making sure beachfront homes have the right type of lights to ensure safety for people and sea turtles.

The third grant is studying the migratory routes and foraging grounds used by loggerhead turtles from the Archie Carr Refuge in Melbourne Beach. The goal is to reveal important information about the turtles’ migratory behavior, foraging grounds, and the areas of potential conflict with commercial fisheries or legal harvest of sea turtles.

Currently, there are four turtles being tracked in this research study. Two turtles went to areas that STC had not observed before in the waters off Florida’s Panhandle and to the Yucatan Peninsula.

These grants are supporting critical programs that are increasing knowledge about sea turtles and providing solutions to ensure their survival. The grants were made possible by the sale of the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, which funds Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program and the Sea Turtle Grants Program. To learn more, visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.

Loggerhead Belle Returns to Nest

Satellite-tracked turtle returns to nest again
by Ludi Lellis, Orlando Sentinel on May, 23 2011

About three years ago, she crawled off a Brevard County beach, a satellite tag glued to her back so that turtle fans could track her. Now, the loggerhead sea turtle has returned to Central Florida, back again at our beaches to nest again.

The return of the Belle O’Brevard, as she was named, has thrilled turtle researchers, who have learned much through satellite tagging of the sea-faring reptiles.

“Usually the transmitters don’t last long enough but on this turtle, we’ve been able to track her for three years,” said Rocio Johnson, with the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Gainesville.

The Belle O’Brevard was so named as part of a contest during the 2008 Tour de Turtles, an annual event hosted by the Sea Turtle Conservancy in which several turtles are fitted with satellite tags and then tracked for a marathon distance of 2,620 kilometers.

In 2008, this particular turtle, then weighing 350 pounds, had come ashore at the Archie Carr Refuge near Melbourne Beach to dig a nest but before she could return to sea, a fist-sized satellite transmitter was glued to her shell.

The transmitter has stuck, sending a satellite signal every three days. Her favorite migration path is between the Carolinas and Maryland, where she is apparently following the horseshoe migration season. You can see her migration map at this website.

She headed south to Florida a few weeks back and has been staying close to the Brevard coast. Turtles normally return to the beach where they first hatched to lay their own eggs and loggerheads are known to lay eggs about every two to three years. So it would seem that her biological clock is due for another round of nests.

Johnson noted, though, that no one has confirmed a nest, because no one has yet caught up with her at a beach during the nocturnal egg-laying.
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On behalf of STC, thanks for continuing to cover sea turtles, Ludi!