For the past 100 million years, 6-foot long leatherback turtles have been crawling onto a beach in Costa Rica to lay their eggs, then sprinting back to their feeding grounds in The Galapagos to re-fill their bellies. But 90 percent of the leatherbacks have disappeared in recent decades, victims of human pressures. The turtles’ epic history may only have 10 years left – they’re on their way out.
This year, researchers attached satellite transponders to the turtles’ shells as they laid their eggs, and were able to track routes back to The Galapagos. The resulting wealth of GPS data means their race home can be plotted, full of educational opportunities. The trip will be re-played as a 14-day journey starting tomorrow. Amy, Miles, and I have all picked a turtle to cheer on, and will be watching the trip for the next two weeks.
At first I bristled to see the names of corporate sponsors attached to the animals, but that was a knee-jerk reaction. Corporations are exactly the entities that should be chipping in to raise awareness and change the world. Away we go.
The site is being produced by J-School multimedia journalism instructor Jane Stevens.