Forget Sport, The Tour De Turtles Season Has Begun

Ladies, start your flippers! Leonardo Gonzalez/Shutterstock

Rachael Funnell 26 Jun 2020, 19:12

We know 2020 has been tough for those with a competitive side. No football, virus-laden tennis tournaments, and a weird Virtual Grand Prix series. If you’ve been watching the tears race down your face in an effort to fill the sporting void, we have good news for you. Tour de Turtles, the annual conservation-come-sporting-event you didn’t know you needed, has returned for 2020. The first trio of turtles were set loose on June 16 with a future release scheduled for August.

The annual Tour de Turtles has been taking place since 2008, hosted by the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC). The “migration marathon” sees more than a dozen sea turtles embark on a journey from their nesting beaches back to the foraging grounds from whence they came.

Now before you go screeching that such undue pressure shouldn’t be placed upon already stressed turtle species, the “race” is really just a spin on monitoring the natural migratory behaviors of sea turtles. The turtles are unwitting competitors and while each is backed by a corporate sponsor, the race has stayed happily free from doping culture.

However, that is by no means to say that all the turtles are winners – there can be only one. The goal is to back the turtle who swims the furthest distance come the deadline, which for the June 16 race is October 31. So, fear not, there’s still everything to play for and the entire ocean to play it in.

June saw the STC’s first-ever leatherback-only race kick off from Palm Beach County, Florida. Satellite telemetry will follow the six post-nesting turtles, each of whom was named by their corporate sponsor. Jessie, Nevada, Freckles, Hope, Tamarind, and Tartleby will inform ocean scientists as to how far the sea turtles migrate to nest, while thrilling the sporting public who can track their turtle’s progress online.

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As well as collecting valuable data for ocean scientists, the race aims to raise awareness of the trials faced by migratory turtles. From fishing practices to ocean trash, beach erosion, oil spills, and poaching, there is much work to be done in making the ocean a safer place for threatened turtles species and the STC hopes the Tour de Turtles will further inform government-backed policies to protect the various species.

Watch the drama unfold here. But please, gamble responsibly. 

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[H/T: Southern Living]

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