- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

MARATHON, Fla. (AP) - A loggerhead sea turtle, rehabilitated at The Turtle Hospital, joined a “race” Friday against 10 other turtles after being released on a Florida Keys beach with a satellite-tracking transmitter affixed to its shell.

“Pine Tyme” became the last competitor to join the Tour de Turtles, a three-month-long marathon featuring public online monitoring of the progress of 11 sea turtles.

Organized by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Tour de Turtles follows the long-distance migration paths of several species of turtles. The reptile covering the greatest distance is to be declared the winner.

“The Tour de Turtles is all about education, research and raising awareness about sea turtles,” said Dan Evans, technology and research specialist for the Sea Turtle Conservancy that is conducting the race. “It’s using cutting-edge satellite tracking and telemetry to follow the migrations of these sea turtles in an educational format to get kids and the general public interested in sea turtles.”

Participating turtles have been released off coastlines into the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

“We get important research information that helps us to protect and conserve habitats that these turtles are using out in the ocean,” Evans said. “It provides us critical information we don’t (normally) get with sea turtles because most of the time we see them on a nesting beach or a rehab area.”

Evans said that “Pine Tyme,” who spent nine weeks recovering at the hospital after being struck by a boat, is particularly valuable because of the lack of information researchers have on where rehabilitated turtles travel after they are released back into the wild.

“We are really going to learn about what these rehab turtles are doing,” he said.

Evans said that after the batteries in each satellite transmitter are exhausted, the apparatus will eventually separate from the turtle’s shell.

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Online: http://tourdeturtles.org

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