National Wildlife Refuge System
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Clad in hazmat suits, employees from the National Wildlife Refuge System's Northeast Region prepare to don respirators during HAZWOPER training in April in Hadley, Mass

At the start of the Tour de Turtles, a threatened loggerhead turtle heads for open water at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida with a satellite tracking device affixed to its shell. Biologists use data generated in the annual turtle “race” to better understand the animals’ migratory habits.

Credit: USFWS

Slow but Sure: 1,628 Miles

Turtles may not be the fastest things on four legs, but they sure can go the distance, especially in water.

The Third Annual Tour de Turtles begins August 1 at Florida's Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important nesting sites in the Western Hemisphere for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.

Ten loggerheads equipped with satellite tracking devices will begin their yearly migration from nesting places on the refuge. The first turtle to log 1,628 miles at sea wins the "race," which is designed to help biologists better protect  the turtles by better understanding  their migratory habits. In last year's race, the lead turtle swam more than 285 miles in nine days.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuges in Texas are also inviting the public to see the release in July and August of a more-critically endangered sea turtle — the Kemp's ridley. The turtle nests in large numbers on South Padre Island, Texas, where Laguna Atascosa Refuge occupies 2,200 acres. The Texas turtle releases are expected to occur as scheduled, says Laguna Atascosa Assistant Refuge Manager Leo Gustafson. Along the Louisiana coast, Kemp's ridley turtles have been seriously impacted by the oil spill, but as of late June, oil had not yet reached the Texas coast.

For more information on the Tour de Turtles, visit:

For more information on the wildlife refuges:
Archie Carr Refuge:
Lower Rio Grande Valley Refuge:
Laguna Atascoa Refuge:

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