Mote Marine Hosts Run So That Turtles Can Crawl



Mote Marine Laboratory and 1,000+ participants joined together for a day of fun, sun and a run, this past Saturday at the 33rd Annual Run for the Turtles at Siesta Key Beach Pavilion. Mote Marine scientists were not only runners themselves, but also got the runners stretched and warmed up beforehand, while simultaneously holding a trivia with sea turtle facts and prizes. Further excitement and motivation arrived when Mote’s mascots Shelley the Sea Turtle and Gilly the Shark came to pump everyone up and pose for pictures before runners jogged off.

First of the two different runs held was a 1-mile “fun run,” which brought a huge variety of participants, with ages ranging from one to 97 years old. Next was a 5K run sanctioned by the Manasota Track Club. Teams joined together and experienced the ultimate “runner’s high”—taking in the scenic beach route of Siesta Key while protecting and promoting the conservation efforts of local sea turtles nesting on beaches.

Mote even upped the ante this year with its first ever virtual run. Virtual runners spanned the globe, including a team of runners in Denmark, who follow Mote Marine research and contributions—and whom expressed their joy at still being able to partake and donate to the cause. Mote Marine will even been sending out participation ribbons. Both the virtual run and the local events on Siesta Key sold out prior to race day, and the 33rd Annual Run for the Turtles marked one of the most successful in its history. 

“The final amount is still being tallied,” says Stephannie Kettle of Mote Marine. “But we know at least $40,000 has been raised for our Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program (STCRP)." This annual event provides major support for STCRP, so the scientists can continue to conduct daily surveys of the 35-mile stretch of beach that Mote monitors. “The scientists find and study these nests every single day during the nesting and hatching season,” Kettle says. “Turtle nesting season for southwest Florida runs from May 1 to October 31.” STCRP also assists with finding and tagging adult sea turtles to satellite-track their whereabouts and population for further research. These explorations not only help with local scope and analysis, but is also essential for national outreach for federal sea turtle conservation efforts. The general public can even follow along live for Mote’s tagged turtles here.

Last year, STCRP had their third best nesting year in the history of the program, with 3,151 nests hatching along the 35-mile coastline. And this year looks as though it will top it even further.

Photo of the 5k sanctioned run by Manasota Track Club, courtesy of Conor Goulding / Mote Marine Laboratory

Learn more about the Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program.

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