MARATHON, Fla. – A rare hybrid hawksbill-green sea turtle, rehabilitated at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital, will participate in a long-distance online “race” that follows the migration of sea turtles over three months.
A satellite tracking transmitter was epoxied to “Maisy’s” shell before she crawled from Marathon’s Sombrero Beach into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday.
The Tour de Turtles, an annual educational project organized by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, is intended to raise awareness about sea turtles and threats to their survival. The public can monitor competitors’ progress online.
”Maisy” was rescued almost a year ago off the Lower Keys suffering from fibropapillomatosis, a herpes-like virus affecting sea turtles around the world. Turtle Hospital staff’s treatment included multiple tumor removal surgeries, administering antibiotics and a healthy diet of seafood and greens.
The reptile is the first of nine hard-shell turtles to be fitted with a satellite transmitter.
The others will be released off Florida by the end of July, according to Dan Evans, a senior research biologist with the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Their tracking and “race” is to begin Aug. 1 and concludes Oct. 31.
“Beyond the educational aspect and the awareness is the science behind it,” said Evans. “Maisy’s the first hybrid sea turtle we’ve ever tracked."
The conservancy began a separate “race” for leatherback turtles on Tuesday.