On Your Mark, Get Set…….Tour de Turtles!


One, two, three…….they’re off!  Turtles, scooting at high speed (for a loggerhead turtle), swept across the beach on their way to the ocean in the 7th Annual Tour de Turtles this past Sunday.  Hundreds of spectators and fans came out to enjoy this year’s race which took place at the Barrier Island Center in Melbourne Beach on Sunday, July 27.

Melba makes her way to the Atlantic Ocean

Melba makes her way to the Atlantic Ocean (Photo: Craig Rubadoux, FLORIDA TODAY 7/27)

Shelley was released first, showing off her satellite transmitter that will track her every move so scientists can study the nomadic habits of the Loggerhead turtle species.  A short while later, Melba, a much larger female loggerhead with a 42 inch long shell, brought cheers from the crowd as she sped her way into the sea.


In past years,  some of the competitors have taken a leisurely stroll down the beach.  This year was different……the turtles were on a mission.  In all, the Tour de Turtles included nine other transmitter-outfitted turtles this year.  As the rules go, the turtle that swims the farthest in three months is declared the winner, and fans can track the turtles’ travels online.

“That’s about as fast as a loggerhead can move on land,” Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) Executive Director David Godfrey remarked to the crowd via bullhorn.

The Tour de Turtles generated publicity for STC – University of Central Florida scientific study of the nomadic habits of loggerhead, green, leatherback and hawksbill turtles.

“We’re looking for migration routes. Because they nest here in Central Florida, but they feed somewhere else. They don’t eat here while they’re nesting, so they travel hundreds, thousands of miles to a feeding area,” said Dan Evans, a STC technology specialist who boasts 14 years of turtle satellite-tracking experience.

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