The Tour de Turtles Marathon Kickoff took place July 2013 at the Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach. Two loggerhead sea turtles were being released with transmitters for the “marathon”, which is actually a series of sea turtle releases with GPS around the Caribbean. The two turtles were Ripley (325 lbs) and Johnny (slightly smaller). This was a fun event but never go to something like this without bug spray. The sand fleas attacked me with the zeal of a jealous housewife and I still have scars on my legs.
The event primarily took place at the Barrier Island Center on A1A in Melbourne Beach. This center partners with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and is an educational center for the Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge. I’m told that this is a huge sea turtle nesting and research area. For the event they had a bunch of activities set up for kids to teach them about conservation and a day in the life of a sea turtle. I don’t have kids but I like seeing this kind of stuff and my friend’s son enjoyed wearing his turtle-shell backpack through the obstacle course. There are trails throughout the refuge but we didn’t spend much time on them since the heat was out of control.
The hotel we stayed at is called the Sea View Resort Motel. It’s on the water, quaint, but great. I’ve stayed in 3 different Melbourne area hotels and this is my favorite by far. Melbourne Beach (a little south of the city of Melbourne) has clean sand, turtle tracks everywhere, and no condos on the main road. Our hotel was a small, independently owned place with each room being a studio to 2-bedroom apartment. The steps lead from the patio onto the beach below. We strolled along the water at dusk and we were the only people around. It was very quiet and beautiful. At about 10pm we walked along the water and saw 4 sea turtles come out of the water to lay eggs. It was pretty dark because the houses and motels along the water all have no or very dim turtle-friendly lighting, but we could still see well enough to hang back and watch as they dug their nests then made their way back to the ocean. Very cool.
On our way home I saw a sign for Turkey Creek Sanctuary in Palm Bay so we stopped there to check it out. It has a nature center, boardwalk trails, and canoeing. We walked along the boardwalks and saw a manatee swimming around.
Also nearby in Vero Beach is Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, which, from what I read, is America’s first national wildlife refuge. I don’t have much to say about it yet because all we did was spend a few minutes checking it out but the last photo is the view along the trail along which we meandered.