Slow and steady wins the annual Tour de Turtles, a one of a kind event that takes place every year, racing several turtles of the same species and it’s taking place this week in Brevard County. The race has official started on Sunday, the checkered flag was waved from Melbourne Beach where two turtles have started their marathon.
The purpose of the race is seeing which turtle can travel the longest distance within three months, in order for researchers at the Sea Turtle Conservancy to properly track their migration pattern. It is yet unknown, even if most choose to return to the beach they’ve come from in order to nest.
However, before returning, David Godfrey of the Sea Turtle Conservancy has stated that they “go to all different kinds of forging grounds in other countries”, finding potential beaches to plant their eggs.
Female Space Coast loggerhead sea turtles, Myrtle and Dash have left the beach upon the cheers of the crowd chanting and cheering as the two slow reptiles made their way to the waves. Around 1,000 people were estimated to have participated, yelling out encouragements for the sluggish animals.
After dragging their way to the waters and pausing for dramatic effect, they floated away in the Atlantic Ocean amid the chanting of a thousand people attending the 8th annual Tour de Turtles.
However, Myrtle and, the reportedly faster, Dash will be facing 11 other competitors from Costa Rica, Panama, Vero Beach, Marathon Key, Anna Maria Island, Nevis and the Bahamas. Each turtle has a satellite transmitter attached to their shells, easily tracking the “runners” and will be closely observed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization weather satellites.
After the first three months, the turtle who travels the longest will be declared winner, though it’s quite clear that it will not be attending the prize ceremony. Instead, the transmitters might continue to send data for years to come, studying the patterns of Space Coast loggerhead sea turtles during migration.
The 2014 Tour de Turtles is still being tracked, with Shelley currently in the lead after swimming 3,623 miles off the shore of Norfolk, Virginia and Melba on second place, after covering 1,977 miles and currently floating around the Gulf of Mexico.
This year, the marathon has started again and all slow turtles are being tracked by satellites and cheered on. There have been no hares confirmed in the race.
Image source: news.discovery.com