The Great Turtle Race

AAANNND THEEEY'RE OFFFF!

Eleven turtles, fresh from egg laying, are making a dash from Playa Grande, Costa Rica to their feeding grounds in the Galapagos. Outfitted with satellite tags for the 14-day race, which takes place between April 16 and 29, these intrepid leatherbacks are working a 100-million-year-old tradition. But keep your eye on the clock, sports fans, because this 600-mile sprint may be history in 10 years—90 percent of leatherback turtles have vanished from the Pacific Ocean, tripped up, as it were, by human pressures.

Pick your favorite athlete—Purple Lightning, maybe? Or Stephanie Colburtle?—and track her progress towards the finish line via satellite. As they paddle fin-to-fin, beak-to-beak, our swimmers need to watch out for obstacles such as fishing paraphernalia, plastic bags masquerading as delicious jellyfish, other marine debris, as well as the occasional result of poor human sportsmanship (BOO, HISS).

The Great Turtle Race is organized by Conservation International, the Costa Rica Ministry of Environment and Energy, The Leatherback Trust and the Tagging of Pacific Predators. Hosted by Yahoo, the event is sponsored by companies such as Dreyer's Ice Cream, Microsoft, Plantronics, and Travelocity.

We don't know about you, but our money's on Genevieve. She seems to know what she's doing. And that shark-related circular hole in her front flipper? The race's organizers think it may make her more hydrodynamic.

Visit the Great Turtle Race's Web site to learn how you can do your part to help protect sea turtles; you can also donate money to preserve Playa Grande as a haven for these amazing leatherbacks. :: The Great Turtle Race

Tags: Oceans