Race Turtles

Illustration by Chris Rooney
Wawa Bear

Wawa Bear is the largest turtle ever captured in Nova Scotian waters, bigger than most real bears! While the 'Bear' in this turtle's name is obvious, the 'Wawa' comes from what she called her grandmother when Wawa Bear was just a little turtle. She is a regular traveler from Canada to the Caribbean; she has nested in French Guiana every 2 years since 1993. Wawa Bear is not a turtle that needs to stop and ask for directions.

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To get in shape for the Race, Wawa Bear was trained by Olympic champion Jason Lezak, who is a career anchor swimmer, so his teammates rely on him to pull through at the end of the race.

Listen to Dr. Mike James from the Canadian Sea Turtle Network describe their experiences watching Wawa Bear’s migration to her nesting beach and waiting for word that she had been spotted.

SUBSCRIBE: Cheer for Wawa Bear!

Turtle Name

Wawa Bear (Female)


Jason Lezak


174.5 cm (5 ft 9 in)


123.5 cm (4 ft 1 in)


600 kg (1,315 lbs)

Find out if Wawa Bear’s colossal size, her experience on this racetrack, and a little Lezak magic will help her win.

Where is she now?

Wawa Bear nested on the same beach she has nested on since 1993 in French Guiana in the early morning of 22 March 2009. She laid 95 billiard ball-sized eggs, weighed 560 kg, and still had her transmitter attached, so the scientists actually were able to track her right to the nesting beach all the way from Nova Scotia.

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