Take a look inside Tour de Turtles, a special event held at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort each year.
Here’s a combination that’s educational, environmentally-minded, and features a slightly spooky surprise: a turtle migration marathon! We’re talking about Tour de Turtles, an annual event held at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. While the focus of this event is the yearly migration sea turtles make from their nesting beaches to their feeding grounds, this year’s also introduced a bit of Haunted Mansion movie fun into the mix.
Learn more about Tour de Turtles and this year’s migration below.
What is Tour de Turtles?
If you’ve never heard of Tour de Turtles before, you’re in for a treat! This special event is all about sea turtles – specifically, the sea turtles that reside in Orlando’s natural environment. Tour de Turtles is educational, hosted by researchers from the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) and Disney Conservation. And it’s an opportunity for Disney fans to learn more about the wildlife native to Walt Disney World Resort’s hometown, as sea turtles make their annual migration from nesting to feeding areas.
As the turtles migrate, STC and Disney Conservation researchers work to use satellite telemetry to track turtles in an effort to learn where and how far they swim during their migration season. The data collected helps researchers, conservationists, and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation and management.
2023 marked the 16th Tour de Turtles, making this annual event a longstanding tradition at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. But Disney’s sea turtle conservation efforts have been going on even before Tour de Turtles began.
“Disney’s commitment to sea turtle conservation in Vero Beach spans 20 years, and we are very proud to have recently watched our 1.5 millionth sea turtle hatchling leave the nest and shuffle its way to the ocean,” said Mark Penning, Vice President of Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment. “Southeast Florida hosts one of the largest nesting aggregations of loggerhead sea turtles, making up to 40 percent of the global loggerhead population. The team has recorded more than 20,000 sea turtle nests on our survey route since the program began.”
Since the event officially began in 2008, Disney and STC have worked together to study a total of 29 sea turtles outfitted with satellite transmitters. All of the turtles were released from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
A Frighteningly Fun Turtle Twist
Of course, Tour de Turtles isn’t solely about research! There’s a bit of fun involved – and this year, the event was themed around the new Haunted Mansion film. As a nod to the film, the turtles were given some spook-tacular names: Madame Leota and Harriet.
The Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) and Disney Cruise Line each sponsored one of the turtles. Then, upon their release at Vero Beach Resort, the turtles “race” to see which will swim the furthest and ultimately win the competition.
How far will Madame Leota and Harriet swim? So far this year, the Disney Conservation team has yet to find out!
If you’re interested in learning more about the sea turtles that the Disney Conservation Fund works with, you have the chance to do so the next time you’re staying at Vero Beach Resort. From May to October, both Disney Vacation Club members and resort guests can actually assist the team and participate in outings to observe real-time sea turtle research. It’s a great way to learn more about conservation efforts and add some extra-special adventures into the mix of your vacation.
And for more information about Tour de Turtles, visit TourdeTurtles.com. You can get ready for next year’s event and even check in on the migration of Madame Leota and Harriet!