Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida Sea Turtles: "Frozen" in Migration Race

Ripley Ripley is an adult female loggerhead sea turtles released with a satellite transmitter on July 28, 2013 from the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, Florida. She measured 103 cm in curved carapace (shell) length. Ripley took part in the 2013 Tour de Turtles and was named by her sponsor, Ripley's Aquariums. View migration map.

VERO BEACH, FL - "Let them go, let them go!" Insert the melody from the song from Disney's hit movie, "Frozen."

This weekend, Florida's Sea Turtle Conservancy will do just that, as it releases two loggerheads - appropriately named "Anna" and "Elsa" - as part of the group's 2014 "Tour de Turtles migration marathon" at Disney's Vero Beach Resort and Melbourne Beach.

David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, explained what makes this "marathon" so unique.

"We want the youth of the state of Florida to learn about sea turtles," he said, "and using character names from the most popular animated movie right now is just ideal for us."

The Conservancy has placed satellite transmitters on Anna, Elsa and several other turtles to track their travels along Florida's coast and around the Caribbean. Anyone can track them online through updated satellite maps at tourdeturtles.org. A Saturday event at Disney's Vero Beach is for guests of the resort, and there's a public event at Melbourne Beach on Sunday.

Researchers use the migration data to gain a better understanding of turtle behavior and how the environment is affecting them, Godfrey said.

"The use of satellite transmitters has opened up a whole new type of research to learn a lot about the migratory route that they're taking," he said. "And of course, that begins to inform you about the kinds of threat that they may be facing when they're away from the beach."

Scientists estimate only one out of every 1,000 turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood. They say human activity, including artificial lighting near beaches, confuses the hatchlings on land, and trash left on beaches can contribute to a sea turtle's injury or death.

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