One of life's simplest joys is seeing an adorable turtle inch around at the park or in a stream. While the gentle shell-backed creatures you see wandering around on the sidewalk don't usually travel far from where they were hatched, sea turtles trek further than you could imagine. Every summer, the ocean-dwelling turtles prepare for a marathon-like migration as they bid farewell to their nesting beaches and take to the ocean to travel to foraging grounds. The incredible journey can last thousands of miles--and you can watch one of them kick off this week in Disney Parks' Tour de Turtles livestream.
Tour de Turtles was developed by the Sea Turtle Conservancy in 2008. Using satellite telemetry, the "science, research and geography" of individual sea turtle migrations are followed closely from the moment they leave the shore. According to the organization, the annual competitors (a total of 20 sea turtles representing four different species) "swim with the goal of being the turtle to swim the furthest distance during the migration marathon." Disney’s Animals, Science & Environment Team has since partnered up with the Sea Turtle Conservancy to host annual events that celebrate two turtles off going off on their migration.
At Disney's Vero Beach Resort, it's off to the races for two loggerhead turtles on Saturday, July 28 (if it were a perfect world, we'd all already be at Disney World and could pop onto the beach to watch it in person). If you want to watch from home, Disney has your back. Disney Parks' Tour de Turtles livestream begins on Saturday morning at 7:40 a.m. ET (you can tune in on the Disney Parks blog) — and this year, the event has a Toy Story Land theme.
In homage to the recent opening of Disney's Toy Story-themed park area, designed to feel like Andy's backyard, the Tour de Turtles event theme is intended to shed light on the wildlife conservation efforts at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort (among the most active sea turtle nesting sites in Florida) and "encourage guests to care for those animals – big and small – who live in their own backyards." Last week, Disney Parks blog readers voted to name this year's sea turtles, and the winning titles are inspired by two female Toy Story characters — tune into the livestream on Saturday morning for the big reveal.
Though thousands of hatchling sea turtles emerge from their nests to brave the oceans each year, Tour de Turtles reports that "as few as one in 1,000 will survive into adulthood." The organization is dedicated to using the fun, educational migration event to spread awareness about sea turtle conservation. Each sea turtle competitor represents a sponsor and individual conservation cause as they swim, and Tour de Turtles explains that "as a turtle is supported through Adopt-A-Turtle donations, her Cause Meter will show the amount raised by that turtle." Every cause represents efforts to combat a threat to sea turtle safety, including water quality, plastic debris, light pollution, climate change, oil spills, illegal sea turtle shell trades, and others.
To learn more about actions you can take to help protect sea turtles, click here. In the meantime, enjoy your Saturday morning with the Tour de Turtles kickoff livestream — honestly, this competition just might be more intense than the World Cup.