From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Dr. Mark Penning
It continues to be a thrilling sea turtle nesting season at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, a Disney Vacation Club Resort! We are so fortunate to be working on this beach, which represents one of the most important areas for sea turtle nesting in the country. Disney Conservation Team Wildlife has recorded more than 18,000 sea turtle nests since we began our field conservation program in 2003. This year, all three species are having an excellent nesting season on our nesting beach.
Two of those nests belong to Miss Piggy and Kermit, our superstar turtles who are participating in this year’s Tour de Turtles migration marathon. Named in honor of the release of “Muppets Now” on Disney+, these turtles are celebrating the completion of a successful nesting season and the start of an oceanic journey to their foraging grounds. Disney has collaborated with the Sea Turtle Conservancy, creator of the Tour de Turtles program, to release satellite-tagged turtles together for the last 13 years. While we have had some amazing turtle contenders over the years, we’re looking forward to watching the journeys of Miss Piggy and Kermit.
Miss Piggy, a loggerhead sea turtle sponsored by our friends at Disney Cruise Line, is swimming to raise awareness about harmful plastic debris in our world’s oceans, and to encourage fans to help clean up waterways and reduce plastic waste. The reduction of plastic waste is a cause that’s very important to Disney Cruise Line. In support of The Walt Disney Company’s overall efforts to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in use, Disney Cruise Line has eliminated plastic straws, cutlery, stirrers, shopping bags and condiment packets onboard and on Disney Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in The Bahamas.
Kermit, Disney’s very first green sea turtle in the Tour de Turtles, is sponsored by Disney Conservation and is swimming to raise awareness about artificial light pollution on nesting beaches to improve conditions for mother sea turtles to lay successful nests, and for their hatchlings to find their way to the ocean.
The migration race between Miss Piggy, Kermit, and the 13 other turtle competitors began on August 1 and our swimmers are off to a great start! Of course, the Tour de Turtles isn’t really about winning (although winning sure is fun). By wearing a satellite transmitter on their journey, these turtles are sharing important information that will help us to better protect their habitats, identifying exactly where they spend their time when they are not visiting Florida’s beaches to lay their eggs. They are also raising awareness about the different threats that sea turtles face in the wild, and inspiring sea turtle fans to work together to protect them and their habitats in Florida and beyond.
What can you do to protect sea turtles?
- In honor of Miss Piggy, minimize your use of single-use plastic, and dispose properly of all trash. All waterways lead to the ocean, and plastic floating in city canals eventually ends up in the sea.
- To help turtles like Kermit, turn off your lights at night. Even if you don’t live near the beach, many other species like birds and bats rely on dark skies to navigate safely.
- Support a conservation organization with time or contributions. Thanks to contributions from our guests, Disney has been supporting the Sea Turtle Conservancy for 20 years, helping to ensure the protection of sea turtles from Florida to Costa Rica to Panama.
- Learn more about sea turtles by visiting DisneyAnimals.com, checking out @DrMarkAtDisney on Instagram for all things animals, science and environment, and following Disney Conservation on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about the conservation work we do to support healthy oceans around the world.
So, catch a wave, and watch our racers go with the flow in the big ol’ blue! Follow along at TourdeTurtles.org.