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April 12, 2007

MEDIA ADVISORY: Stanford graduate student is co-founder, scientific adviser for The Great Turtle Race

Monday marks the beginning of The Great Turtle RaceĀ— a global event that allows anyone with a computer to track the 950-mile annual migration of 11 endangered leatherback turtles from their Costa Rican nesting site to feeding grounds near the Galapagos Islands.

Stanford University graduate student George Shillinger is the lead scientific adviser for the race, which is designed to raise public awareness about leatherbacks. Earlier this year, Shillinger outfitted all 11 turtles in Costa Rica with electronic tracking devices that transmit location, depth and water-temperature data to orbiting satellites. He has been monitoring the animals' progress at the laboratory of his faculty adviser Barbara Block, professor of biological sciences at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, Calif.

Block is co-principal investigator at the Tagging of Pacific Pelagics (TOPP) program, which organized the race along with The Leatherback Trust, Conservation International and the Costa Rica Ministry of Environment and Energy. Corporate sponsors include Dreyer's Ice Cream, GITI Tires, Plantronics, Travelocity, West Marine and Yahoo!

Each turtle has been given a nickname, including Stephanie Colburtle, named for Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, who is featuring the race on his nightly program, The Colbert Report. Members of the public will be able to root for their favorite turtle by logging onto

Shillinger will be available for interviews from now through the end of the race, which runs from April 16 to April 29.

Editor Note:

For downloadable Great Turtle Race photos, contact Lisa Bailey at Conservation International: (703) 341-2602 or



Mark Shwartz, News Service: (650) 723-9296,


George Shillinger, Hopkins Marine Station: (202) 549-0897,

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