Tour de Turtles

Issue 4, 2014

Tour de Turtles

There was no shortage of excitement in this year’s Tour de Turtles (TdT) marathon! This year, Sea Turtle Conservancy tracked 11 sea turtles representing five species from four different locations: Florida, Tortuguero, Panama, and Nevis. After three months of friendly competition, we have our winners, along with some exciting updates from the field! Panama Jack, a giant female leatherback from Panama, finished in first place in STC’s 7th annual Tour de Turtles Migration Marathon. She actually led the race the entire duration! This was a very exciting win for sponsor Turtle & Hughes, Inc. The turtle they sponsored in last year’s race, a juvenile green named Relay, came in 12th place, so they were thrilled at the opportunity to sponsor a leatherback for this year.

In second place, we had Calypso Blue III, sponsored by Atlantis Resort. She put up a good fight for 1st but she just couldn’t match PJ’s speed! Her distant cousin, leatherback Calypso Blue II, was last year’s winner. Speed definitely runs in that family! The race for third place was a definite nail biter… When this issue went to press in October, green turtle Esperanza (sponsored by Contiki Holidays and Tread- Right Foundation) surprised everyone by swimming from last place all the way up to 3rd place in a matter of days! She certainly kicked things into high gear this month. However, loggerheads Elsa (sponsored by Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund) and Melba (sponsored by Florida’s Sea Turtle License Plate) are both right on her tail! It looks like it will be a close race to the very end, so make sure to visit after November 1st to see which turtle came out victorious!

Some fun facts about this year’s race:
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 near Big Pine Key, Florida. She was brought to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL for treatment and upon recovery, was fitted with a satellite transmitter and released from Sombrero Beach. This also marked STC’s first release from The Florida Keys!

The morning after green turtle Esperanza (sponsored by Contiki Holidays and Tread- Right Foundation) laid her eggs in Tortuguero, her nest was poached and the 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.

Hawksbill Sugar already had flipper tags when STC found her nesting on Lover’s Beach near the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis. It was determined that she was originally tagged by the Nevis Turtle Group in 2007!

Loggerheads Anna and Elsa (sponsored by Disney’s Animals Programs, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund) were both named after characters from Disney’s animated movie Frozen. Their nests hatched within days of each other and both had very successful hatch rates! Anna laid 72 eggs of which 68 hatched. Elsa laid 127 eggs and 115 hatched.