Brevard County South Beaches hosted more than 1,000 spectators gathered to watch as Myrtle and Dash, two loggerhead sea turtles were ‘racing’ toward the ocean.
The two loggerhead sea turtles will be monitored to track migration patterns and other data by the Sea Turtle Conservancy Organization, as well as researchers at the University of Central Florida. The loggerhead sea turtles are also connected to the weather satellites of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization.
Children and adults alike cheered for their favorite sea turtle as the two were heading towards the water from their starting point on the South Beaches near Brevard County’s Bonsteel Park. The event marked the start of the Tour de Turtles, already at its eighth edition this year.
Dash and Myrtle are not the only two turtles in the race. They will be joined by others from Anna Maria Island, Vero Beach, Marathon Key, Nevis, Panama, the Bahamas, Costa Rica.
As is the case with last year’s competitors, Dash and Myrtles satellite-connected transmitters are bound to send data for more than the three months initially planned. Currently, last year’s competitors are known to have travelled thousands of miles, with Shelley having swam 3,623 miles and Melba another 1,977.
Why Brevard County as the host of the Tour de Turtle? It is due to the fact that the Bonsteel Park, as well as Barrier Island Center and the Indian River County are all part of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
Here, loggerhead sea turtles have found a welcoming home for their nests. The last count showed that loggerhead nest amount to 12,932, while leatherback nests amount to 57 and green turtles’ nests to 8,938.
The executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy stated:
“On this beach for the decades that it’s been monitored, loggerheads have been by far the predominant species. And just within the last few years, the green turtle nesting has shot up so high that we actually had to see a lot of green turtles last night before we found any loggerheads”.
As they finished laying their eggs close to the Barrier Island Center, Dash and Myrtle were captured by volunteers and prepared for the Tour de Turtles.
Dash sprinted out of its containment and into the water in under two minutes. Myrtle was lagging behind and being encouraged by spectators on the side.
Photo Credits: takepart.com