Great Turtle Race

I’m a bit late on this one (I don’t know how I managed to miss it since I had to put the data together) but National Geographic and Conservation International had a Great Turtle Race with a bunch of leatherback turtles tagged by my old adviser. They took data from turtle tracked from Nova Scotia to South America and had a big two-week event watching which turtle reached the Caribbean first. They have a pretty cool animation of the satellite tracking (although of course not quite as good as mine) and some cute leatherback artwork (complete with leathery back instead of shell, although why are they green?).

Flash animation of Great Turtle Race Leatherback turtle game

That site also has the first leatherback game I’ve ever seen. The artist did a really good job since the view is pretty much identical to the view we get from a shoulder mounted turtleCam. Unfortunately, the game turtle handles like a tank which really doesn’t do justice to the maneuvering ability of leatherbacks. They’re huge animals but in the water they’re really quite graceful and they can turn on a dime (as I quickly found out when we were trying to catch them).

Backspacer leatherback by Chris Rooney

Anyway, it looks like the turtle named Backspacer (it’s weird to see all the interesting names since we always call the turtles by their tag ID number), sponsored by Pearl Jam, yes that Pearl Jam, won the race. Turtle Cali won the diving portion of the race and received an Iron Turtle Award. Here’s a nice post-race summary and also Olympic swimmer (and turtle coach) Jason Lezak’s take on it. It’s great to see so much public interest in leatherback turtle tracking and National Geographic and Conservation International did a great job promoting and running the event.