Great Gulf Turtle Race today

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Recently equipped with satellite tracking GPS devices to record their movements and ultimately protect their habitat, 22 out of 24 tagged Hawksbill turtles swimming in GCC waters are competing in the Great Gulf Turtle Race.

Beginning on June 6, their movements can be tracked and visitors will be able to cheer for their favorite turtles at www.gulfturtles.com.

The Emirates Wildlife Society and WWF Marine Turtle Conservation Project organised the Great Gulf Turtle Race to raise awareness about the conservation status and ecology of these critically endangered long-distance swimmers.

Last year, scientists recorded a turtle leaving a beach south of Muscat, Oman and travelling 20km per day for 50 days to reach Oman’s Masirah Island 1000km away.

For the first time ever, a turtle was recorded migrating from the Arabian Sea through the Straits of Hormuz to forage in Gulf waters off Ajman.

“In 21 days, a post-nesting Hawksbill turtle can travel more than 400km crossing several international borders. Last year we recorded a turtle swimming more than 5000km,” said Lisa Perry, Programme Director at EWS-WWF.

“These movements demand international conservation measures to protect nesting grounds in one country, migratory routes through another, and foraging grounds in yet another. Knowing these migration patterns is necessary to protecting their future.”

In this year’s Great Gulf Turtle Race, 22 turtles will join this symbolic event to compete for the title of long distance traveller.

Beginning at midnight on June 6 the current locations of turtles already equipped with transmitters will be noted.

The total distance travelled by a turtle from that point in time until midnight on July 11, 2011 will “win” the race.

Visitors to www.gulfturtles.com can “cheer” by clicking on their favorite turtle. The turtle receiving the most “cheers” will win the title of the most popular turtle.

Lisa Perry added: “On behalf of EWS-WWF, I would like to extend our thanks to our turtle sponsors for supporting the Marine Turtle Conservation Project.

So far we have some great names for the racing turtles courtesy of their sponsors and we hope to see all of them named before the end of the race.”

The Great Turtle Race commences on June 6, 2011 and continues for five weeks until July 11. The turtle travelling the furthest distance in this time period, no matter its location, will be crowned the “winner” of the turtle race.

For more information and to cheer your favorite turtles, visit www.gulfturtles.com.