Tracking The Great Leatherback Turtle Race
Apr. 28 - KGO (KGO) -- Here's something fun to do with your computer this weekend: you can track the final leg of a turtle race to the Galapagos Islands.
Eleven endangered leatherback turtles have been tagged for their annual migration and kids from a Los Altos school have their money on one particular reptile.
It's been a close, somewhat nerve-racking race. Students from Bullis Charter School in Los Altos have been tracking a leatherback turtle named Saphira. It's a 500-mile race in the Atlantic Ocean.
Kristen Lau, Student: "It's really cool because you get to see where they start to where they end."
The 11 competing leatherbacks left Costa Rica in Central America after nesting. Using a harness, a satellite tagging system was mounted on their backs.
Sometime this weekend all the turtles will end up near the Galapagos. Saphira is competing against turtles sponsored by several companies, among them Yahoo.
The cost to sponsor one of these 2,000 pound turtles is about $25,000. Some of the money goes to pay for the tracking device, but most of it goes to the conservation effort.
Warren Zhang, Student: "Winning would be a good thing, but it's not that important as opposed to the real focus of the race, which is to raise awareness for the plight of the leatherback sea turtles."
The 6th grade class actually flew to Costa Rica to find out more about these huge turtles. They even helped dig up nests, uncovering eggs to find out why some did not develop properly.
The entire school has learned why these turtles are on the endangered list.
Talliya Smith, Student: "People are taking up beaches, putting up hotels and restaurants and stores on it so the leatherbacks won't be able to nest there."
Helena Steffens, Student: "There is also plastic bags and stuff like that out in the water and since the leatherbacks they eat jellyfish and it looks a lot like the jellyfish, sometimes they'll eat that and then they'll die."
Today, for these kids, it's a race to save the leatherbacks.
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