Pacific Loggerhead Turtles
Until five years ago, the Pacific loggerhead turtles of Baja California presented a herpeto-logical enigma: Not a single nest had ever been found on North American sand. But in 1996, after two fruitless years spent scouring beaches from Guatemala to California in search of nesting evidence, researcher Wallace J. Nichols had a last-ditch theory. Knowing that turtles found off Japan are genetically similar to those off Baja and that an adult loggerhead will always return to its birthplace to lay eggs, he glued a $1,500 satellite beacon to the back of an adult Mexican turtle named Adelita and released her. "It was kind of in the back of my mind, 'Hey, wouldn't it be neat if she swam to Japan?'" says Nichols. "But I didn't think she'd make a beeline for it." Sure enough, paddling at speeds of up to a foot per second, Adelita reached the Nipponese coastline 12 months later, proving that loggerheads make an incredible 7,000-mile transpacific migration.