Florida Keys sea turtle participates in Tour de Turtles

Published : 24 Jul 2021 07:35 PM

AP, Marathon

A juvenile green sea turtle rehabilitated at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital has been fitted with a satellite-tracking transmitter and released from a Keys beach to join the 14th Tour de Turtles, a marathon-like race that follows long-distance migration of sea turtles over three months.

The educational outreach program organized by the Sea Turtle Conservancy raises awareness about sea turtles and threats to their survival.

“The Tour de Turtles is an online educational program where, starting August 1, we’re tracking 19 turtles from Florida, Panama, Costa Rica and Nevis,” said Dan Evans, a senior research biologist with the Sea Turtle Conservancy. “It’s the idea that we’re tracking which turtle swims the furthest distance over three months.”

Dubbed “Lucky Pulse” by her rescuers for a pulse-like marking on her head, the Keys turtle was released Friday to raise awareness about her own affliction. She was found off the Keys March 17, entangled in fishing trap line and covered with fibropapilloma, debilitating tumors that develop from a herpes-like virus that affects sea turtles around the world.

After the tumors’ removal, Lucky Pulse’s recovery included blood transfusions, breathing treatments, a broad spectrum of antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and a diet of seafood and greens.

“Sea turtles are the oldest animal known to man; they were on our planet when dinosaurs roamed our land,” said Bette Zirkelbach, general manager of the Turtle Hospital. “They’re an indicator species, so they are the canary in the coal mine for everything that is happening with our marine ecosystems.”