Tour de Turtles: A Race for Survival

Credit: Sea Turtle Kona Hawaii by K Johansson Via Creative Commons

Most of us are familiar with the Tour de France whether we are avid bike riders or not. However, I’m guessing that not too many people are familiar with the “Tour de Turtles.” That’s right, not exactly a household name yet, but the Tour de Turtles is an event that is quickly gaining recognition. Interestingly enough, I was not familiar with this event until I read about it in my local newspaper here in Florida.

So, what exactly is the Tour de Turtles? Well, this event is an annual migration marathon that started back in 2008. The “marathon” tracks sea turtles at sea in order to learn more about their behavior and migration habits. In addition, the marathon aims to raise awareness about the various threats that sea turtles face. Also, the Tour de Turtles encourages positive stewardship to the sea turtles ocean and coastal habitats. All of this benefits the sea turtles by helping them survive.

The sea turtles are tracked through a method called satellite telemetry. Basically, this involves attaching a transmitter on the back of the sea turtle. When I first heard about it, I was a bit concerned about the transmitter being attached to the turtle. Also, I wasn’t sure if the transmitter was going to be attached permanently, but the transmitter is temporary. It falls off safely in about a year or two. So, the good news is that the sea turtle is not living with a transmitter attached to her back forever! And the transmitter does not interfere with their movement. Plus, the researchers learn lots about their behaviors, migratory patterns, location of their habitats, etc. In turn, this information will help protect sea turtles. In addition, the information is uploaded to interactive maps located on the Tour de Turtles website. This gives people the opportunity to track the sea turtles. So, for anyone who has kids (or for the inner kid in you), nephews, nieces, or grandchildren, this is the fun part (and very educational). The link will be provided at the end of this post.

Sea turtles face many challenges that affect their survival with an estimated one out of a 1,000 to 10,000 hatchlings surviving to adulthood. Not surprising, many of the problems are caused by humans. These “threats” are emphasized during the marathon. Each turtle is swimming to raise awareness for a cause. For instance, Bubbles is swimming to raise awareness about the problem of plastic debris in the ocean. Many sea turtles are killed due to ingestion of plastic bags and fishing lines. On the other hand, Crystal is swimming to raise awareness about poor water quality. And Squirt is swimming to raise awareness about the threat of oil spills. These are just a few of the sea turtles that are swimming in the marathon. There are a total of fifteen sea turtles, representing four different types of species swimming for various causes.

This is an awesome short video (about two minutes long) that shows Bubbles being released into the ocean (click onto You Tube directly to watch). The kids are so happy to see the turtle being set free. Each sea turtle is released at different locations at various times. However, the race doesn’t start until all turtles are released. This gives each sea turtle an equal opportunity to win the marathon. Whoever goes the furthest distance wins the race.

These are some of the problems that threaten the sea turtles:

  • Commercial Longline Fisheries
  • Water Quality
  • Invasive Species Predation
  • Plastic Debris
  • Light Pollution
  • Turtle Hunters (Meat Consumption)
  • Climate Change
  • Commercial Trawl Fisheries
  • Sea Walls
  • Oil Spills
  • Egg Poachers
  • Illegal Sea Turtle Shell Trade
  • Native Species Predation
  • Beach Renourishment

For more information on these problems, click onto the link I have provided below to the Tour de Turtles official website. The official race start date is Monday August 15, 2011. If you have kids nearby, don’t forget to get them involved. This is an opportunity for kids to learn all about the many issues facing sea turtles and our environment. However, this is going to be fun and educational for folks of all ages! This is not a one-day event, so if you read this post after the start date, be sure and check out the site anyway. As a matter of fact, the race will last about three months! As previously mentioned, whoever swims the furthest distance will be the winner. Moreover, we will all be winners when we have compassion for our environment. It will benefit everyone. After all, if we destroy our marine life and oceans, we destroy ourselves. Thanks for caring.

The link to the Tour de Turtles website is: www.tourdeturtles.org

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About wordswithpurpose

Compassion motivates and inspires me. Whether it’s compassion for animals, the environment, or people–I embrace it. I try to live a compassionate life each and everyday. It gives me purpose.
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18 Responses to Tour de Turtles: A Race for Survival

  1. barb19 says:

    What a marvellous opportunity to get kids involved and learn more about these wonderful creatures. May I re-post this to my FB Fan Page? It’s all about animals, and I’d love to help raise awareness of the problems the turtles face.

    • Absolutely Barb! I am so glad that you enjoyed the post. I’m all for raising awareness. Plus, kids truly are the future. The Tour de Turtles is a wonderful way to educate them on the importance of being good stewards to our environment. I am honored that you want to repost this. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  2. I’m always fascinated by sea turtles. One of which is how they manage to return to the place that they were born to produce the next generation of turtles. Some men don’t even have that sharp memory. The race is very unique. I wish there’s more of it so people will be more aware and be concern about them. I wanted to visit North padre, Texas last July for the release of the hatchlings. I wish to see the precious cycle of the turtles . How sad that only 1 out of the many can survive the wild. It’s alarming and we all need to help.

    • It is amazing that the sea turtle returns to the same beach where she was born to nest and lay her eggs. They truly are precious and unique. Plus, it’s pretty amazing that sea turtles have existed for over 100 million years! It would be so tragic to see them not survive. And of course that means we humans would be next on the list. Anyway, it’s great to know that other people like yourself are concerned about our environment. Hopefully, we can make a difference. Awareness is a good first step. I hope you and your family get a chance to check out the marathon online! I appreciate your comment! 🙂

  3. cup of joe says:

    What a great idea to raise awareness on these great creatures. Hope that the information obtained during the marathon will help them continue to survive. Also if people could be more responsible in their actions towards sea life then maybe we can help with their continued existence. Thank you for writing such an inspiring post. Keep up the great work! I will check out the link to the race. OK turtles, ready, set, GO……….

    • I’m so glad that you are going to take time to check out the link to the race. I have dropped by the Tour de Turtles website several times, and I am amazed how far some of the turtles are swimming! During my last check, “Shelle” was in 1st place. She is swimming to raise awareness about the problem of egg poachers (Egg Harvest for Consumption). By the way, this marathon is fun for adults too. This race has a long way to go, so I’ll be checking in for many weeks to come. Anyway, I should also mention that I saw a turtle in my backyard today!! Isn’t that a coincidence? I never really see turtles in my backyard, so this was a real surprise for me. I was concerned about the turtle, but he appeared to be just fine. I watched him/her go into a small wooded area next to my home. So, apparently he knows his way around. I just couldn’t get over the fact that I saw a turtle in my backyard today. I get really excited about this sort of stuff! Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Have a fun time at the race! 🙂

  4. What a great project to both address threats to sea turtles and raise awareness. Thanks for leading me back here and for the interesting story! Eons ago I had the opportunity to go with a biologist and count nesting sea turtles on an island in the Great Barrier Reef. It was the most amazing thing to be there among them for a couple days. Look forward to more of your posts.

    • Wow! You are so lucky to have had that awesome experience! I wish that I could have been there for that one. Anyway, I so appreciate your comment. I think that your nature photos are just amazing. I will definitely be dropping by your blog quite a bit. 🙂

  5. jakesprinter says:

    Hope their species still remain in the future nice post

    • I hope that these beautiful creatures survive too Jake. I think that their chances for survival depend a lot on us humans. The first step is awareness. So, thanks for taking time to read and comment on this post. Hopefully, we can make a difference! 🙂

  6. Sony Fugaban says:

    I did “like” this post before but failed to comment on it so here I am — again.

    This is another enlightening post, Donna. I learned a lot about turtles and the kind of survival/struggles their hatchlings face in this day and age. I can’t help but pity turtles after reading this. In times I know I am not of help DIRECTLY, I wish have superpowers so I can DIRECTLY help at putting things in order. It just sucks that, most of the time, the people who are in authority over these issues are the ones who are unaware of the unfortunate things surrounding animal matters. It makes me wanna wish again that it should be the other way around.

    • Thanks for your caring comment Sony. I must admit that sea turtles are indeed worth caring about! I agree with you that there needs to be more protection for sea turtles at the governmental level. As far as superpowers go, I wish I had them too! Ha! Ha! Seriously though, there is a whole lot that we can “directly” do. I can’t list them all here. If you get a chance, try and check out the link to the Tour de Turtles website. There is lots of stuff on their site about what we can do. Just in case you’re curious, “Groove” won the marathon race! She is an adult leatherback sea turtle. She was swimming to raise awareness about the problem of Commercial Longline Fisheries. Sadly, sea turtles become entangled in the lines, or get caught on hooks. If they can’t get to the surface for air, they simply drown. Others get severely injured. By the way, this problem is a good example of how we can directly get involved by the food choices that we make. Once again, lots of good information is on the Tour de Turtles website. Thanks again for your great comment my friend (a.k.a. green warrior). 🙂

      • Sony Fugaban says:

        🙂 If I am the green warrior then you are my commanding officer. Anyway, I’ll get to know more about the site in a while since it what you said about it sounds pretty much interesting. Thanks for always educating me on this stuff.

      • Ha! Ha! I think that we would make a great team. No commanding officer though. It would be two green warriors on a mission. By the way, I will be spending some time over at your blog soon. I need to catch up with all your posts. Thanks for reading all of mine. That was so kind of you my friend. I wish you and your family the best Christmas ever! 🙂

  7. Sony Fugaban says:

    p.s.

    I am addressing the last part of the first comment to the officials in my country.

    • Fantastic Sony! I second that. Plus, I know that when election time comes around that I will be voting for those politicians that truly care about the environment. Power to the people! After all, we are the government! 🙂

      • Sony Fugaban says:

        Unfortunately, the presidential candidate who’s advocacy is on saving the earth has already given up. “She” tried to run for that position thrice but it seems that the majority in my country, especially officials, are still not “that” aware of the problems. Hence, she failed to seize the position — thrice.

      • There is a solution to this problem. Sony for president!!! 🙂

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