Last Saturday morning, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort guests connected with nature in a way that few people get to experience when they cheered on two giant, loggerhead sea turtles named for Disney characters – who had laid their eggs on the beach the night before – as they returned to the sea. The turtles were fitted with satellite transmitters and released near the resort as part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles,” which follows the marathon migration of 11 sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds.
The sea turtles, Carrie (sponsored by Disney’s Animal Programs and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort) and Claire (sponsored by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund), were named for two of the characters in the Disney•Pixar film “Monsters University.” Sea turtles face monstrous challenges throughout their lifetime, but all of us can help.
Each turtle in Tour de Turtles acts as an ambassador to raise awareness about a specific threat to sea turtles. Carrie is raising awareness about the threat of light pollution on the beach. Since sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight to find their way to the ocean, many become disoriented and drawn off-course by artificial light sources. We can help by turning off unnecessary lights that may be visible on nesting beaches. Claire is raising awareness about the threat of plastic debris. Many turtles have been killed by swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic debris, including plastic bags and fishing lines. We can help by recycling and putting trash in appropriate containers.
Did you know?
- Researchers from Disney’s Animal Programs and the Sea Turtle Conservancy will track the sea turtles using satellite telemetry as they travel from their nesting beach to various feeding grounds. Using this technology, scientists learn about sea turtles’ habits at sea and the different migratory patterns of each species. This knowledge helps researchers, conservationists and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation actions and policies. People worldwide can view the sea turtles’ progress online at www.tourdeturtles.org. Lightning McQueen, a sea turtle sponsored by Disney from the 2011 Tour de Turtles, returned again this year to the beach near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort to nest, and her eggs hatched just a few weeks ago with the baby turtles heading out to sea.
- Of the nearly than $20 million that the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) has distributed since the fund’s inception, more than $1 million has helped support sea turtle conservation around the world. Guests visiting Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot can adopt the nest of one of the sea turtles that lays her eggs at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, including Carrie’s and Claire’s. The adoption fee is directed through the DWCF to sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida.
- The team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate and conserve turtles and tortoises every day. Over the years, for example, the Disney’s Animal Programs team has nursed more than 300 endangered sea turtles back to health and released them back to their home in the sea.
- At Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, the Disney’s Animal Programs team monitors sea turtle nesting activity on several miles of beach near the resort, and examines what factors contribute to successful hatching of the sea turtle nests. Resort guests can get involved too. For example, kids can join Turtle Troop, a fun and educational experience that combines crafts and a walk on the beach to see a sea turtle nest up close.