15th Annual Turtle Ride Underway from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
Earlier today at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, researchers from the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) and Disney Conservation Team Wildlife released two sea turtles as part of the 15th annual Tour de Turtles “migration marathon.” Tour de Turtles is a fun and educational initiative that follows the migration of sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their feeding grounds. Each turtle swims to raise awareness of various threats to sea turtle survival.
The Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) and Disney Cruise Line are each sponsoring a turtle this year, whose names, Neytiri and Ronal, are inspired by the upcoming premiere of “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Through the use of satellite telemetry, STC will track these two turtles and 19 others to determine how far and where the sea turtles swim during their annual migration. Whoever swims the farthest wins the Tour de Turtles!
“Disney’s commitment to sea turtle conservation at Vero Beach spans nearly 20 years, and we are very proud to recently see our 1 millionth sea turtle hatchling leave the nest and head to the ocean,” said Mark Penning, vice president of Disney’s. Animals, Science and Environment (ASE). “Southeast Florida is home to one of the largest loggerhead sea turtle nesting aggregations in the world. To ensure Disney’s Vero Beach Resort continues to provide the best nesting habitat for sea turtles, Disney’s Wildlife Conservation Team conducts daily surveys of the resort’s beachfront to identify, mark and monitor turtles. sea turtle nests while engaging guests in our conservation efforts.
The data collected during the Tour de Turtles helps researchers, conservationists and government agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation methods and policies. Since the event’s inception in 2008, STC and Disney have collaborated to study 26 Loggerhead Sea Turtles fitted with satellite transmitters and released from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. The Disney Conservation Fund has also allocated more than $4.7 million to help with global sea turtle conservation.
“Since our very first Turtle Tour, Disney has been an invaluable support of the event and our organization,” said David Godfrey, CEO of STC. “In addition to learning new information about sea turtle behavior, Disney’s support has allowed us to develop new training programs for local students to familiarize themselves with the tools, technology and techniques that sea turtle scientists use every day.”
The Disney Conservation Fund recently awarded a grant to STC to develop two educational initiatives that will train young people in Brevard County to become future environmental and conservation stewards of sea turtles. The Sea Turtle TECH (Technology Education Challenges Horizons) Mentorship Program and Professional Conservation Education Program offer STEM-focused activities to introduce students from diverse underserved communities to the fundamentals of sea turtle conservation. Students from these programs attended this year’s Tour de Turtles event to better understand how this and other outreach initiatives play a crucial role in protecting sea turtles.
In addition to Tour de Turtles, Disney Conservation Team Wildlife studies and monitors sea turtle nests during the summer nesting season along the Five Mile Coast at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. From approximately May through October, Disney Vacation Club Members and Resort Guests also have the opportunity to help the Sea Turtle Conservation Team by participating in sea turtle-watching outings while learning how to protect sea turtles. through their own daily actions.
Tour de Turtles is a research and education program of the Sea Turtle Conservancy and is an example of Disney Planet Possible at work. To learn more and follow the turtle migration, visit the Tour de Turtles website at www.tourdeturtles.org.