Sunday, March 10, 2013

Loggerhead turtle racing to eclipse all watersports ... 1921

Today’s animal activists would gasp at the loggerhead sea turtle race held on Miami Beach - then often referred to as Miami by the Sea -  at the Roman pools in 1921. It was promoted as “the biggest aquatic event which has ever been billed in Miami Beach.”
Scouts combed the Florida Keys for weeks to find worthy loggerhead contestants, which average 300 pounds. The Miami Metropolis reported that “turtle racing in the Bahamas is what baseball is to the United States” and, up to that point, had never been held in the U.S.

Capt. Charles S. Thompson, a popular fishing guide in Miami who claimed President Warren G. Harding among his customers and friends, was tapped to be one of the turtle riders because he “knows more about the sport than any other man hereabouts.”

The Metropolis described the upcoming event:

The sea turtles will be harnessed and driven from a line on the pool across the pool and back by men astride the turtles. It requires skill and a knowledge of the ways of the big turtles to win a race.  The movie men will be there to see that the race is given the proper attention in the weekly news pictures in the great cities of the world.

Today the loggerhead sea turtle, the state saltwater reptile of Florida, is designated a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Miami Metropolis, July 31,1921
Miami News, May 17, 1929

Tags: Miami Beach history, loggerhead sea turtles in Florida, Florida film researcher,  historical researcher

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