With nearly 200 encouraging fans, a loggerhead sea turtle named Dory returned to the Atlantic Ocean after successfully laying eggs near the shores of Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

© Copyright Disney

© Copyright Disney

Dory is one of 10 sea turtles participating in Tour de Turtles: A Sea Turtle Migration Marathon hosted by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC). The program is designed to spotlight the challenges facing sea turtles, with each participant representing a “cause” or threat to sea turtle survival.

Released from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Dory’s mission is to raise awareness of the effects of light pollution. Since sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight to find their way to the ocean, many become disoriented and drawn off-course by artificial light sources.

Ironically, Disney conservation biologists chose to name this sea turtle Dory after the often-disoriented, blue-colored regal tang fish from the Disney-Pixar movie, Finding Nemo. In this case, Dory the sea turtle had no trouble finding her way to the sea.

Researchers from Disney’s Animal Programs and CCC will track the chosen sea turtles by satellite technology during the next few months as they travel from their nesting sites to unknown feeding grounds. Through satellite technology, scientists may discover more about sea turtle habits at sea and identify migratory patterns that may hold the key to their survival. This knowledge helps researchers, conservationists and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation methods and policies.

Each year, approximately 50,000 sea turtles come ashore in Florida each year, making it one of the most fertile nesting areas in the United States. Sea turtles are among the oldest creatures on earth and have remained essentially unchanged for 110 million years.

In the United States, as much as 90 percent of sea turtle nesting occurs in Florida, which serves as home base for several species of endangered and threatened sea turtles. Yet with as few as one out of 1,000 hatchlings surviving to adulthood, scientists are still trying to learn more about these mysterious creatures of the sea.

Audiences worldwide will be able to view the sea turtles’ progress online at www.tourdeturtles.org and watch the marathon unfold. Using an interactive, multimedia Web site, Tour de Turtles offers audiences everywhere the opportunity to learn about threats to sea turtles and follow their legendary migrations, while simultaneously conducting vital research.