Bortie might not have won the race, but the sea turtle won the hearts of islanders.
When loggerhead nesting season on Anna Maria Island peaked mid-June, local turtle watchers collaborated with the Sea Turtle Conservancy in its Tour de Turtles, a program to tag and release nesting female sea turtles for migration data.
The loggerhead — named Bortie for Bortell’s Lounge in Anna Maria, AMITW’s race sponsor — was held overnight and tagged with a satellite tracker June 18. The turtle was released June 19 after nesting on Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.
Since then, Bortie traveled 359 miles between Anna Maria Island and Everglades National Park during its migration to place 10th out of 14 contestants when the race ended Nov. 1.
The tracking device showed that Bortie came ashore three more times, possibly nesting on beaches south of Anna Maria Island.
Bortie didn’t travel the farthest distance to win the race, but won the people’s choice component with an overwhelming number of votes on the Sea Turtle Conservancy Facebook page.
“People on our island are all about sea turtles, so it’s no surprise they voted for Bortie,” Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director said Nov. 1. “People here are living for this moment.”
Bortie was AMITW’s third contestant in the tour.
In 2015, AMITW’s tagged turtle Amie lost her transmitter shortly after the start of the marathon.
In 2017, AMITW won the tour with loggerhead Eliza Ann, which traveled 1,693 miles from its release through the end of the race, Nov. 1, 2017.
“She may not have had the same victorious finish as Eliza Ann, however, every sea turtle has a different feeding practice so their travels will be diverse,” Fox said. “Accumulatively, all the satellite data collected from our own Anna Maria Island nesters tells a big story and speaks volume for our community helpers. Research is priceless.”
To find out more about the Tour de Turtles, visit www.tourdeturtles.org.
For more information about AMITW, contact Fox at email@example.com or 941-778-5638.