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Tour de Turtles

A Sea Turtle Migration Marathon

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is excited to announce the 7th annual Tour de Turtles Migration Marathon.  Tour de Turtles will follow more than a dozen individual sea turtles, using satellite-tracking technology, as they leave their respective nesting sites and compete in a mock race to complete a ‘turtle’ marathon.  The Tour de Turtles will be won by the turtle that swims the furthest distance in three months!

Visit www.tourdeturtles.org to be part of the action! You can meet the turtles competing in the marathon, track each turtle’s progress, and learn about obstacles facing the turtles during their long migratory journeys.  There are also lots of fun educational resources for kids and teachers.

Follow the Turtle Hospital’s very own loggerhead sea turtle that is participating in this migration.  Pine Tyme is an 80-pound loggerhead sea turtle who was found near Big Pine Key and was nursed back to health by the Turtle Hospital.  Check out his marathon migration map, where you can follow along as I swim to raise awareness about the threat of Boat Strikes to sea turtles.

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Thank You to all of our Volunteers!!!

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Baby sea turtle tracks on Sombrero Beach July 10, 2014

The following is some additional information about sea turtles.

  1. The hatchlings emerging from the nest are loggerhead turtles, which are a threatened species.
  2. Nesting season in the Keys is May 1 – October 31.
  3. Hatchlings typically do not emerge during daylight hours, instead taking advantage of the protection from predators that nighttime provides.
  4. Hatchlings emerging from the nest are capable of climbing out of the sand on their own and do not require assistance. Please do not dig into sea turtle nests – this could be considered a violation of state and federal laws!
  5. Hatchlings that are making their way to the ocean on their own are best left to do so on their own. Please do not interrupt their crawl unless they are crawling away from the ocean.
  6. How they can help – leave only footprints on the beach (pick up after yourself & others), manage light on their property (including docks) to make sure hatchlings & nesting females aren’t led astray, recycle their fishing line, fill in holes, bring in beach furniture at night, support local turtle conservation groups, etc.
  7. Provide contact info – who should they contact if they see a sea turtle crawl? A sick/injured sea turtle (FWC @ 888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC on a mobile phone)? What if they want to volunteer/get involved?
  8. Explain the weed – folks from other areas won’t know what this is or why it is there and may think that this is out in the ocean rather than on the beach. Great opportunity to explain the importance of weed to the beach ecosystem.
  9. Include the language “All marine turtle footage taken in Florida was obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles while conducting activities authorized under FWC MTP-14-079.”

Sea turtle nesting season lasts from April 15 to October 31. Although nearly 90 percent of sea turtle nesting in the U.S. occurs in Florida, over the last decade nesting rates in the state have dropped more than 40 percent for the loggerhead turtle. From April through October these creatures will return to their home beaches to lay eggs. Marathon’s coastal residents and beach visitors can help sea turtles during the nesting season by keeping beaches clean, being aware of nesting sites and reducing artificial lighting near beaches that can distract and confuse mothers and hatchlings and lead to their death.

Here are ways you can help save the turtles:

Turn Out or Replace Lights Visible From the Beach with Turtle Friendly Lights!

Sea turtle hatchlings use light and reflections from the moon to find their way to the water at night. Artificial lighting confuses the hatchlings and causes them to head inland instead of out to sea – putting them in dangerous situations which can lead to death. Artificial lights also discourage adult females from nesting on the beach. Short of turning off your lights, you can also take measures to shield, redirect and lower the intensity of the lights on your property.
FWC approved wildlife-friendly lighting information is available online at http://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/lighting/certified/bulbs

Clean Up Trash You See On the Beach!

Sea turtles can become tangled in plastic and trash both on the shore and in the water. Discarded items such as fishing lines, balloons and plastic bags may also be confused for food and eaten by sea turtles, often resulting in injury or death.

Be Aware of Sea Turtle Nesting Areas and Avoid Nesting and Hatching Turtles!

Sea turtles are cute, and therefore tempting to touch and observe – but flashlights and people disturb turtles when they are nesting, or trying to nest, on the beach. Make sure to give nesting areas plenty of space, and do not disturb females as they emerge from the ocean looking for a place to nest. Also be conscious of where nesting areas are so that you can avoid trampling the hatchlings as they head to the water.

Volunteer!

There are countless ways in which you can make a positive difference in the lives of sea turtles. Organize a clean-up day with your friends and clear the beach of litter, give a presentation to your neighborhood or local school on things they can do to save sea turtles, and most importantly, talk to others about what they can do to make sure they are not putting these important creatures in danger.