Tybee Island prides itself on the vast number of sea turtles that call the island home during nesting season from May 1 to Aug. 31. Join the Tybee Island Marine Science Center as it kicks off Georgia's nesting season with the 13th annual Tybee Turtle Trot at 7:30 a.m. April 29.

This event at the iconic Tybee Pier & Pavilion includes a 5K race on the island's beautiful beach, followed by an award ceremony and an epic sea turtle release!

The Turtle Trot is more than just a run - it's also an educational experience.

"This year we are focusing more of our attention on the sea turtle release than we have in the past," says Maria Procopio, executive director of the science center.

After the race and award ceremony, join spectators as they line the beach to watch the Georgia Sea Turtle Center release a rehabilitated juvenile sea turtle named Pikes Peak.

Pikes Peak is a Kemp's Ridley turtle from Cape Cod, Mass., that suffered from severe boat strike injuries and was stranded after a cold stunning event. Thanks to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Pikes Peak has made a full recovery and is strong enough to return to the wild.

While Pikes Peak is a Kemp's Ridley, loggerheads are actually the main species for sea turtle activity in the state of Georgia, according to Chantal Audran, curator and marine biologist at the science center.

Last year, Georgia had a record-breaking sea turtle nesting season with a whopping 3,300 loggerhead nests found along the coast. That's more than 1,000 above the average! Out of those 3,300 nests, 13 were located on Tybee Island and nine were located on Little Tybee.

"With this abundance of loggerhead activity, it allows us to correlate an endangered species directly to our coast. By educating people about the importance of our beaches to the loggerhead life cycle, locals and visitors can engage in stewardship and responsibility for a specific species," says Audran.

All proceeds from the Turtle Trot go to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center's Sea Turtle Conservation Fund - a program designed to protect the loggerhead sea turtles that nest on Tybee's soft sands every year.

The science center serves as a beacon of hope for stranded, sick and injured marine life on and off Tybee's shores. While this event goes to benefit their good work with sea turtles, the center also works to save stranded birds, dolphins, manatees and North Atlantic right whales.

For all things Tybee, go to visittybee.com, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @visittybee.


What: 13th annual Tybee Turtle Trot

When: 7:30 a.m. April 29; packet pick-up from 4-7

Where: Tybee Pier & Pavilion

Cost: $20 for science center members; $25 for non-members

Info: Online registration ends at noon April 27 at active.com