Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cape Verde: African good news story - on BBC

"The remarkable economic and political progress of Cape Verde is seen as a blueprint for the rest of Africa, writes BBC Today programme presenter Evan Davis after a visit to the tiny island state.

Contrary to the impression you might have had of African nations, here is one where democracy flourishes

I have to admit, I couldn't have told you three interesting facts about Cape Verde until I was asked to go there for the Today programme.
I didn't know where it was - 570km (354 miles) off the coast of West Africa. I didn't even know how to pronounce its name.
And then I found myself sent there on a three-day mission to investigate a startling story: That sub-Saharan Africa is not just a region of starving children and warring dictators."

Read the rest of the article at:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Turtle Foundation mural painting at the main-place of Sal Rei/ Boa Vista

Looking at the run-down walls of the main square in Sal Rei, we decided it was time to repaint an old mural we had done in 2008 in front of the kid's corner, this time with an image of underwater-sea-life with sea turtles, fish, corals etc to remind everyone of the beauty and importance of the incredible marine biodiversity of Boa Vista.

To do this, we collaborated once again with our artistic mentor, Titu Ramos, a local artist who has worked with us many times before, the participants of the Turtle Foundation Ranger Training – Márcio, Ronny, João and Énio, and a group of school kids. And it was a lot of fun!

After preparing the wall during the week before and giving it a bright blue coat in the morning of Saturday the 17th of December, Titu and the school kids got started by drawing the images with a pencil on the wall and colored them afterwards. All the participants seemed to have a lot of fun and the process of painting the wall only got interrupted by the occasional paint-fight between the kids. All the kids got a little present at the end of the activity and some of them were already asking the next day when we are going to do the next painting.

Now the main square in Sal Rei is more colourful and cheerful again, we hope this mural will not only make the square look nicer, but also pass on an important message, which is also our slogan - “Protejamos as tartarugas – junte-se a nos” – “Lets protect the sea turtles – join us!”.

For now, we just have to find the next wall and the right image…

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Second tropical sea turtle washes up on Vancouver Island.

from CTV news:

An endangered green sea turtle died early Monday at the Vancouver Aquarium after being rescued four nights earlier on Vancouver Island.

The tropical turtle was found Wednesday and is the second in a week to wash up on the shores of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve near Tofino. Scientists are baffled as to why.

Dr. Dennis Thoney, director of animal operations at the aquarium, said it is unknown where the turtles came from exactly and how they ended up in cold B.C. waters during a La Nina year.

"Normally when we see turtles up here it's during times of El Nino when the waters are much warmer and they tend to move further north. But this year, it's the opposite," he said.

On Wednesday, a park visitor spotted the sick turtle stranded on the beach and immediately notified Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Marine Mammal Response Network, which rushed to the scene and transferred the reptile to Vancouver.

Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena and his team provided emergency treatment to the young male sea turtle including feeding him fluids and antibiotics.

The cold-shocked animal also had severe eye injuries that seemed to be improving with rehydration. However, the turtle's lack of response and slow movements led veterinarians to believe he may have been brain dead.

Last week, an olive ridley sea turtle was found in the same region but was declared dead the day after it was brought to the aquarium.

Aquarium veterinarians were hoping for a better outcome for the second young sea turtle but with such a slow heart rate, they were skeptical of his recovery.

"Reptiles have a capability of slowing down to hibernate over winter and then come out," Thoney said. "But they're tropical animals so it's not a normal thing. It could kill him."

To see the short news video:   video of cold-stunned green turtle

Friday, December 9, 2011

Turtle Cookies for sale at Vaduz, Liechtenstein Christmas market

Home-made turtle cookies for sale to benefit sea turtles this Saturday (1-8 pm) and Sunday (11-5) at the Christmas market in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.  You're all invited to come!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Turtle Foundation lottery to benefit sea turtles

It’s time again:

Due to the big success of our lottery on behalf of the sea turtles in 2010 and 2011, TURTLE FOUNDATION and SOS Seaturtles (founded by the famous underwater photographer Kurt Amsler) are doing it again this year. This year again 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the lottery tickets will be used for Turtle Foundation’s sea turtle conservation work.  

These are the prizes you can win:

12-day dive safari “Komodo” for 1 person on the sailing dive boat Pindito (based on shared twin-bed cabin). Flights not included. Valid until end of 2012. Value USD 4,590.00
1 week stay for 1 person (ocean view room), including breakfast and 5 days diving with Nitrox, including transfers from/to airport. Flights not included. Valid until end of 2013. Value USD 1,450.00 / EUR 1’210.00
1 week stay for 1 person (garden view room), including full board, 10 dives and transfers. Flights not included. Valid until end of 2013. Value USD 1’121.00 / EUR 935.00

4th PRIZE:
Statia Lodge, St. Eustatius (Netherlands Antilles)
1 week stay (7 nights) for one person at the Hibiscus Bungalow (with kitchen), incl. a dive package (10 dives) with Scubaqua. Flights, marine park fee and diving equipment not included. Valid until end of 2013. Value: USD 1,185.00

5th PRIZE:
Lembeh Resort, Sulawesi, Indonesien
1 week stay (5 nights) for one person, including full board, 11 dives and transfers to/from airport. Flights not included. Valid until end of 2013. Value: USD 1,038 / EUR 865.00
1 week stay for one person (ventilator bungalow), including breakfast, 10 dives at the house reef and transfers. Flights not included. Valid until end of 2013. Value USD 738.00 / EUR 615.00

12 dives (in Dauin, Malapascua, Alona Beach or Cabilao). Valid until end of 2013.
Value: USD 324.00 / EUR 270.00

8th PRIZE:
DiverDesign Schmuckstück
1 “Amulet” sea turtle pendant, curved (made of high-grade Titanium), incl. silicone necklace.
Value USD 295.00 / EUR 245.00 (Additional >DiverDesign Special Offer for ALL Turtle Foundation members and friends valid until 29 January 2012!)

9th PRIZE: Diving Centers Werner Lau, Indonesien & Ägypten
5 day dive package for one person at the Diving Center Werner Lau in Indonesia or Egypt. Valid until end of 2013. Value USD 288.00 - 432.00 / EUR 240.00 - 360.00 (depending on destination). 

By purchasing a lottery ticket for USD 100.00 / EUR 75.00 you will have a chance to win one of these fantastic prizes. The number of lottery tickets issued is limited to only 200! (Good chance of winning!) This year again 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the lottery tickets will be used for Turtle Foundation’s sea turtle conservation work. 

Come join in!
Support this campaign and don’t miss the chance to win one of these amazing prizes! 

> End of lottery: 20. January 2012
> The drawing of the winners is going to take place on Sunday, 29 January 2012, at the FESPO in Zürich (the Vacation and Sports Fair) at the stall of Schöner Tauchen (Dive Travel and Tours).

Click here to get to the lottery ticket order form:  Lottery ticket order form

Lost Kemp's Ridley turtle swims from Gulf to Netherlands

To see video of this story, go to:  Johnny the Kemp's Ridley Turtle
The following text comes from Live Science:

Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory
When Johnny Vasco de Gama showed up in the Netherlands three years ago, he was a nameless, frigid sea turtle with little chance of surviving much longer in the icy waters of the North Sea. But now, this accidental world traveler is back in the United States and will soon be released into the warm waters his species calls home.

The turtle, dubbed "Johnny" by rescuers in the Netherlands, had "Vasco de Gama" appended to his name in Portugal, where marine biologists at the ocean theme park Zoomarine nursed him back to health. The turtle is a Kemp's ridley sea turtle, a critically endangered species and the rarest of all sea turtles. For that reason, an international team of conservationists has worked hard to bring Johnny back to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. On Tuesday (Nov. 29), Johnny arrived at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., where staff checked him out and placed him in a holding tank in preparation to release him into the Gulf.

No one knows exactly how Johnny made it all the way to the Netherlands, thousands of miles from his home territory in the Gulf of Mexico and along the eastern coast of the U.S. According to Mote Marine Lab, the turtle likely got caught in cold currents and become "cold-stunned," a condition that can shut down turtles' organs and even kill the animals. In that state, Johnny may have drifted hundreds or thousands of miles before being found in November 2008.

Once rescued, Johnny was stabilized by Rotterdam Zoo employees and then sent to the aquarium Oceanário de Lisboa in Portugal the following summer. The aquarium, in turn, sent the turtle to Zoomarine for rehabilitation.

After an international process of permit-getting and transport-organizing, Johnny the turtle made it back to the U.S. side of the pond in considerably greater style than his outbound journey: He flew in a specially adapted plane donated by the Portuguese airline TAP.
At Mote Marine Lab, Johnny underwent a veterinary exam on Tuesday and is now on medical hold to be sure that he's ready for release back into the wild. As soon as he's cleared, Johnny will be set free in southwest Florida waters.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Radio broadcast in Germany about Turtle Foundation's Cape Verde project

In September a German journalist was visiting Cape Verde and did a radio broadcast about Turtle Foundation's volunteers working to save the loggerhead turtles.  It's only 4 minutes, and it gives a great description of our work and our goals:  Give a listen:  Radio broadcast about Turtle Foundation

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Season wrap up

(Unten ist die Übersetzung ins Deutsche)

November is approaching, and it is time to pack and say goodbye to the turtles this year.

Looking back into the season, we believe we can be proud of the results achieved; the 2011 season was, by far, our most successful one. Although it had a grim start (we only recorded our first turtles in late June/early July), nesting caught up in September, and although most turtles have left, we're still recording sporadic nesting in some of our beaches, which is great!

In term of results, we can say that so far we have recorded a total of 946 nests this season, in all our beaches, a number similar to that of the year before (1146 nests, but not including Água Doce); the first hatchery we ever built (in Lacacão beach) was the only place in the beach where nests that didn't get flooded and destroyed half-way through the season, and yielded a hatching success rate of over 85% (similar results were found in in-situ nests in Boa Esperança beach) and; more important, our results in terms of protection were wonderful (only 5 turtles reported killed in our beaches!).

It seems that this year poachers moved away from our beaches, which is a relief. We're curious to see if this tendency will be maintained next year, but it is clear that the local people in Boa Vista are embracing our conservation efforts a little bit more each year, and the visible support we received throughout the season from the people from Fundo das Figueiras, Povoação Velha and Sal Rei, among other places shows that we are on the right track.

This season also brought some improvements or changes. With more than 5 students carrying out their research projects in fields such as genetics, parasitology, tourism, nest management strategies and socio-economics, we not only learned a lot from these really interesting studies, but were able to assist in generating important information about these research themes. Also, we participated in a satellite tracking program, led by scientists of the University of Kiel, in collaboration also with the INDP in São Vicente, in innovative research.

This was obviously our most diverse season so far in terms of participants. Although the number of international volunteers remained similar to that from last year (ca. 45), most enrolled as long-term/interns and stayed for at least 6 weeks, while throughout the season we employed 22 Cape Verdeans ful-time, and trained 30 soldiers. Additionally, we funded the only truly community based project (at Povoação Velha), where additionally 16 locals were hired to ensure the protection of Varandinha beach.

In terms of environmental education, we created successful partnerships to outside organizations such as Infância Feliz, in Santiago, and collaborated with several other groups, such as the football team "Onze Estrelas" from Bofareira, Grupo "Pretoria", from Sal, the scouts group in Boa Vista, as well as organizing three weekend camps for kids from the island (with at least 30 participants)...

Well, the list could go on and on, because it was indeed a busy season, but full details of our results will be made available early next year when the full season report is done.

For details of our preliminary data, see the table in our blog.

Thanks for all your support!!!!!!!!!!!!


Nistsaison 2011 – Ein Überblick

Schon bald ist November und damit Zeit, dass wir uns für dieses Jahr von den Schildkröten verabschieden.

Nicht ganz ohne Stolz dürfen wir auf die Ergebnisse der diesjährigen Saison zurückblicken; es ist bis jetzt nämlich die mit Abstand erfolgreichste Nistsaison überhaupt. Nach einem etwas „harzigen“ Start (die ersten Schildkröten konnten erst Ende Juni/Anfang Juli verzeichnet werden) kamen im September dafür umso mehr Tiere zum Nisten an den Strand.

Obwohl die meisten Meeresschildkröten die Gegend bereits verlassen haben, gibt es immer noch vereinzelte Nistaktivitäten an unseren Stränden zu beobachten. Dies freut uns natürlich sehr!

Und hier ein paar Zahlen: Während der diesjährigen Nistsaison wurden an unseren Stränden bisher 946 Nester gezählt; ähnlich viele wie im Jahr zuvor, in dem es 1146 Nester waren (ohne den Strand Água Doce). Die erste von uns gebaute Hatchery (Brutstation), welche sich am Strand von Lacacão befindet, war der einzige Ort dieses Strandes, an dem die Nester nicht überschwemmt und zerstört wurden. Der dortige Schlüpferfolg liegt bei über 85% (ähnlich wie die in-situ Nester am Strand von Boa Esperança). Besonders erfreulich ist das Ergebnis bezüglich unseren Schutzbemühungen: an unseren Stränden wurden nur 5 getötete Schildkröten verzeichnet.

Es macht den Anschein, dass sich viele Wilddiebe dieses Jahr von unseren Stränden fern gehalten haben; welch’ eine Erleichterung! Wir sind gespannt, ob sich diese Tendenz auch kommendes Jahr weiter beobachten lassen wird. Auch ist ein stetes Wachsen der Akzeptanz von Boavista’s lokaler Bevölkerung unseren Schutzbemühungen gegenüber deutlich wahrnehmbar. Im Besonderen zeigt uns die kontinuierliche Unterstützung der Menschen aus Fundo das Figueiras, Povoação Velha und Sal Rei, dass wir auf dem richtigen Weg sind.

Die diesjährige Nistsaison brachte auch einige Veränderungen bzw. Verbesserungen mit sich. Fünf Studenten verfolgten Forschungsprojekte in den Bereichen Genetik, Parasitologie, Tourismus, „Nest-Management-Strategien“ und Sozioökonomie durch. Einerseits konnten wir von diesen interessanten Studien viel lernen, andererseits selbst wichtige Inputs zu den erwähnten Forschungsthemen liefern. Außerdem nahmen wir an einem innovativen „Satelliten-Tracking-Programm“ teil, welches von Wissenschaftlern der Universität Kiel in Zusammenarbeit mit der INDP (Instituto Naciaonal de Desenvolvimento) von São Vicente statt gefunden hat.

Bezüglich TeilnehmerInnen war 2011 ein äußerst facettenreiches Jahr. Nebst 45 internationalen VolontärInnen, von denen die meisten 6 Wochen oder länger blieben, boten wir 22 Kapverdianern eine Vollzeitstelle an und bildeten 30 Soldaten als Ranger aus.

Darüber hinaus finanzierten wir das einzige, gänzlich gemeindegestützte Projekt in Povoação Velha, wo zusätzlich 16 Einheimische angestellt wurden, um den Schutz vom Strand von Varandinha sicher zu stellen.

Unsere Aktivitäten im Bereich Umweltbildung schlossen sowohl die erfolgreiche Partnerschaften mit der Organisation namens „Infancia Feliz“ („Glückliche Kindheit“) mit ein, als auch die Zusammenarbeit mit verschiedenen lokalen Gruppen; so zum Beispiel mit dem Fußball-Team "Onze Estrelas" aus Bofareira, der „Grupo Pretoria" aus Sal oder der Pfadfinder-Gruppe aus Boa Vista. Weiter organisierten wir auch dieses Jahr wiederum drei Wochenend-Camps für Kinder aus Boavista, bei denen jeweils mindestens 30 Kinder teilgenommen haben.

Die Liste könnte an dieser Stelle beliebig fortgeführt werden, da während dieser Saison wirklich immer sehr viel los war. Ein ausführlicher Jahresbericht ist in Bearbeitung und wird Anfang 2012 zur Verfügung stehen.

Details zu unseren vorläufigen Daten sind in der nebenstehenden Tabelle ersichtlich.

Vielen Dank für Ihre Unterstützung !!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peter Yuen photography and Turtle Foundation

Peter Yuen is a photographer who has a wonderful site dedicated to photographing animals in need of rescue. He has taken fantastic photos of sea turtles in Malaysia, and is donating a portion of photo sales to Turtle Foundation. Thank you Peter!  See his work (and buy his photos!) at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Photos from our 2011 season on Boavista, Cape Verde

Joana has posted some photos on Facebook from our work during the 2011 nesting season on Boavista.  Here are a couple, but you should check out the album on Facebook.  They will make you want to go there . . . and we're looking forward to seeing you there!Turtle Foundation Cape Verde photos 2011 season

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Update on the satellite tagging project in Cape Verde

Observing platform sea turtle

– A new interdisciplinary research project at IFM-GEOMAR -
August 18, 2011, Kiel / Mindelo. In a new interdisciplinary research project, marine scientists from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany study the dynamics of the world's third largest nesting population of the endangered loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) on the Cape Verde islands and the mechanisms and genetics of their reproduction. Using data loggers and satellite communication, the scientists can track a number of turtles. In addition a number of sensors provide the opportunity to measure a range of physical and chemical parameters during several months. The first experiments started this summer in time of the reproduction period until autumn.
Worldwide, the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is an endangered species (IUCN red list). Due to fishing activities, environmental pollution, climate change, tourism and hunting the loggerhead turtle populations are under pressure. The population on Cape Verde is the third-largest nesting aggregation worldwide. Hunting is still a very serious issue, although attempts have been made to protect the population. In 2007 alone, on the island of Boavista around 1,150 female turtles were killed as they came ashore to lay eggs. In that year, this corresponded to 15-30% of the total nesting population of the Cape Verde islands. By selling the turtle meat, hunters may obtain up to 150 Euros per turtle, which corresponds to an average monthly salary on Cape Verde.
To support the protection of the sea turtles was one but not the only reason for marine scientists at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany to launch a special research project on Cape Verde. The French evolutionary biologist Dr. Christophe Eizaguirre from IFM-GEOMAR wanted to study the genetics of the population to find out whether it is isolated or a stepping–stone between the other populations in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Even within the Cape Verde population their movements and relationships are still unclear. In cooperation with the NGO “Turtle Foundation”, Dr. Eizaguirre, obtained 2-3mm skin samples from 120 turtles for a genetic analysis. “This data base provides us a basis for our investigation”, says Eizaguirre. “From that we have learned that the Cape Verde population is genetically differentiated from both Floridian and Mediterranean populations. This means that reproduction takes place within Cape Verde demes. Additionally, genetic diversity, a crucial measure of population viability, is still high despite the threats the turtles have to face. This might be maintained by the exceptional mating system the turtles have evolved. Genetic analyses of hatchlings revealed that females mate with multiple males thus decreasing risks of inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity”.
Now Eizaguirre has started a second phase of the project. Together with the marine biochemist Björn Fiedler (PhD student) and the physical oceanographer Prof. Kanzow, he designed a unique observational programme. Three turtles from the Boavista island and three from Sao Vicente were equipped with a satellite transmitter and a number of sensors which measure a number of parameters: GPS position, pressure (equivalent for diving depth), temperature, salinity and some also dissolved oxygen. Thus, the turtles serve as a multidisciplinary measuring platform with similar functions as the gilders used by other groups at IFM-GEOMAR. After the first three weeks of the experiments Eizaguirre is very optimistic: “The data quality is very good, diving depths reported range from 10 to 100 metres”. He hopes that the sensors will remain on the turtles since they will try to remove it. “The instruments are very robust and with costs between 7,000 – 12,000 Euros for each sensor still affordable. In the vicinity of the islands we do have a good chance to retrieve them”. Currently his PhD student Victor Stiebens is on Cape Verde to obtain further samples from the turtles. „During the nesting period from mid July to September, there is a good chance to find nesting female turtles on the beach”, says Eizaguirre. But it is also a dangerous time for the volunteers who protect the turtles and the researchers. “Last year we were threatened by hunters with a machete. Thus, we are very grateful to Christian Roder from the Turtle Foundation and his team that supports our work as well as the authorities and the Cape Verdian marine research institute INDP who without such a project would not be possible“, Eizaguirre concluded.
The project was supported by special funds provided by the Leibniz association (WGL).

For original article, with pictures:  Loggerhead satellite tracking project

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cape Verde's Loggerhead Turtles Receive Endangered Status

Since 1978, Loggerhead turtles have been considered "Threatened" throughout their range.  In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service split loggerhead turtles into 9 separate populations for conservation efforts.  Today, 5 of those populations were designated as "Endangered", a status indicating the population is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significan portion of its range.  All sea turtles are either endangered or threatened, the latter meaning that the species is declining and is likely to beome endangered in the foreseeable future.

Cape Verde's loggerhead population is in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS.

The population designations are as follows:
ESA Threatened- (ESA = Endangered Species Act)
(1) Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS (DPS = Distinct Population Segment)
(2) South Atlantic Ocean DPS
(3) Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS
(4) Southwest Indian Ocean DPS
ESA Endangered-
(5) Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS
(6) Mediterranean Sea DPS
(7) North Indian Ocean DPS
(8) North Pacific Ocean DPS
(9) South Pacific Ocean DPS

For more see: 5 loggerhead sea turtle populations are endangered

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some good news: Accidental sea turtle deaths drop 90% in U.S. fisheries.

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2011) — The number of sea turtles accidentally caught and killed in fishing gear in United States coastal waters has declined by an estimated 90 percent since 1990, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University Project GloBAL and Conservation International.

The report, published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation, credits the dramatic drop to measures that have been put into place over the last 20 years to reduce bycatch in many fisheries, as well as to overall declines in U.S. fishing activity.
The study's authors estimate that 4,600 sea turtles die each year in U.S. coastal waters.
Before measures to reduce bycatch were put in place, total sea turtle takes surpassed 300,000 annually. Of these, 70,000 turtles were killed.
The study used data collected from 1990 to 2007 by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to determine bycatch rates across more than 20 fisheries operating in Atlantic waters from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border, and in the Pacific Ocean, along the West coast and around Hawaii.
It found that overall turtle bycatch rates, including both fatal and nonfatal run-ins, have fallen about 60 percent since 1990.
Shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern U.S. accounted for up to 98 percent of all by-catch takes and deaths during the study period.

For more info and the rest of the article:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Follow up on the quad issue on Boa Vista

An article in the Portuguese newspaper A Semana describes meetings that will lead to greater restrictions on the use of quads on Boa Vista, including setting up routes that the quads may use without disturbing turtles or sensitive dunes and vegetation.  The article is in Portuguese, but a rough translation is below.  The article appears at:  A Semana article about quad bikes on Boa Vista.

From A Semana, online Portuguese news.Quad bikes to have their own routes on Boa Vista
 September 11, 2011
The four-wheel motorcycles will have their own routes on Boa Vista as part of a measure to put a stop to the unbridled and unrestricted movement of these vehicles, used mainly for sightseeing. Finally there has been response to farmers in the interior who saw their fields ruined by quads, and environmentalists who have complained over and over about turtle nests wiped out by these four-wheeled monsters. For years regulations on the use of quads was unenforced, and the problem has increased dramatically as tourism increases.  Despite a regulation that prohibits the use of quads less than eighty yards from the seafront, beaches are invaded by the noisy caravans, often destroying the nests of turtles, and even agricultural areas, especially in the
Povoação Velha area.

To satisfy the demands of residents and environmentalists and put an end to this situation a commission was set up to set a route for such vehicles in all the protected areas and agricultural areas. The route should be outlined by representatives of SDTIBM, Town Hall, National Police, Office of the Ministry of Environment and turtle protection organizations.

The meeting took place between the entities at the end of August and this week the paths for the quads should be decided. The commission went to visit the beaches of Varandinha, Santa Monica, Lacacão, Curral Velho and Boa Esperança to identify and define the regulation. "Further, the route comes with an operational plan for monitoring that will involve several institutions," said Nadir Almeida delegate Maritime Boa Vista.

With the route ready, the commission shall make known to the fleet of motorcycle rental agencies operating in Boa Vista. "We will deliver roadmaps for agencies to hire tour guides who know the roads well," Nadir Almeida said there will be additional information panels installed on the paths.

The supervision will be tightened, says the delegation, which also announced severe measures in order to protect the dunes and the sea turtles that nest between June and October on the pristine beaches of Boa Vista. "Whoever fails to comply will have to cope with heavy fines," concludes the representative of the agency responsible for the coastline.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trading english classrooms for a turtle camp

From Lynnette Miller,

The first time I saw a turtle lay eggs was a magical night for me. Lying silently, breathlessly behind the turtle, watching this intimate process on the beautiful beach at Lacacao camp.

I came to Boa Vista to teach, but I have learned more here than I ever could have hoped.

For me, having lived in Cape Verde for a year but having no experience with turtles or environmental initiatives, I was so ecstatic to get this opportunity to go on patrols, see the turtles, and take part in this amazing project.

Classroom turns to beach and beach becomes our classroom as I finish my first year as a Peace Corps volunteer high school English teacher in a village outside Praia and suddenly find myself in Boa Vista, working with Turtle Foundation to teach English to Cape Verdean employees at turtle camps. But the desks have disappeared. Our day classroom becomes a nightly turtle patrol.

“What is this?” “It’s a track! That is the attempt, and the turtle went back to the sea. It’s a half-moon.”

The night continues. Walking along the sand glowing white in the moonlight. By day, we work on English with a whiteboard in a tent. By night, the turtles are our teachers. Later, we take the classroom to the tourists, to practice in real-life situations educating about turtle nesting and conservation.

Now, as I return to my island, Santiago, I am inspired. Inspired by the people I met, the work I did, the things I learned at turtle camp. I am motivated to bring this back to my village, my island, where turtle meat is a specialty. When I returned to inform my neighbors that I spent the summer working with turtles, the first question from everyone was “Isn’t turtle meat delicious!? Or was it the eggs….I heard they’re tasty but never tried…” No! We were protecting turtles. See my pictures! Let me tell you why we need to protect, not kill and eat the turtles…

So, as the summer comes to an end, I’m back to “real life” at my Peace Corps site, with new plans to teach my kids not only English but about their environment, and getting them excited about taking care of and preserving their beautiful country and the wildlife that shares the land and the sea with them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Quad bike tours on the beaches of Boavista - READ THIS before you rent one, or book a tour...

After a short trip to Varandinha and Santa Mónia beaches, it was appalling the see the quantity of quad bikes and cars on these beaches! Some people have turned these beaches into real motorways, regardless of the the fact that riding quads on the beaches is not only forbidden, but it is also detrimental for sea turtle nesting beaches.

Recently, guides serving the Marine Club in Sal Rei drove at least 8 cars through Curral Velho beach, destroying nests on their way to the nearby beach of João Barrosa, ironically to show nesting turtles at night time... This beach has also been heavily used as a road by locals, tourists and possibly independent tour companies. Other problem areas include Boa Esperança beach, and all the local beaches around Sal Rei. Its time to put a stop to it!!

Turtle Foundation and several other entities have been meeting in the last week in order to define quad bike and car routes to the most important touristic spots in the islands, in such a way that tourists still have easy access and views of the beaches, without entering them with their vehicles. This initiative will involve placing official signs in most entry points, informative signs, route signaling and media campaign.

However, it is important to spread the message around: IT IS ILLEGAL TO DRIVE MOTORIZED VEHICLES ON THE BEACHES!

Please keep this is mind:

- If you want to rent a quad bike or car, follow this rule at all times, and try to stay well in well-defined roads - DON'T DRIVE OFF ROAD, especially not in the dunes and beaches

- If you join a quad tour, make sure your guide follows these rules, if they don't, talk to the company or make a complaint to the police or Turtle Foundation.

Please help spread the word, this is important not only for the preservation of delicate dune ecosystems, but as well as the sea turtle nesting beaches. Be a responsible tourist or resident, and start making the difference. Thank you!!!

Note: Pictures used were found on the internet, both used to publicize quad tours in Boa Vista island!!!! Obviously there's a lot of work to do ahead...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Race to save the nests in Lacacão beach

The last week has seen an increase in ocean swell, causing the innundation most of the beaches in Boavista.

Lacacão beach is notorious and well known for its total innundation several times a year. When this occurs during the middle of the nesting season, it can cause caos and destruction on the nesting beach. Many nests get either washed away, or fully innundated, causing the death of the embryos. To our dismay, the sea this week started eating away the beach, with 3-4m waves getting dangerously close to our hatchery and surrounding area, where we have at least 50% of the nests relocated.

This year, given the potential impact of the lights of the hotel, and increased traffic of both people and quads on the beach, Turtle Foundation embarked on an intense nest relocation program, trying to save as many nests as possible from threats such as light, compaction and inundation.

The results have been great. Most of the nests were saved from the stormy sea, two have already hatched with more than 80% success rate! But many were innundated, and damage to the nests is yet to be assessed. However, the excavation of some of the nests affected by the waves revealed very high hatching success rate, and we are pleased to see that those nests due to hatch were little affected. In any case, it was 3 very stressful days of digging ditches, and monitoring the water table rise and the incoming tides.

Well done to all the Lacacão team, for all the work saving these nests!

Turtle Foundation featured in Year of the Turtle newsletter

2011 has been the Year of the Turtle, hosted by PARC (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) and turtle conservation groups.  Most of the articles and events have been about terrestrial turtles and tortoises, but of course sea turtles are turtles, too!  An article about Turtle Foundation and our work appears in the September newsletter on page 5:

Year of the Turtle September Newsletter

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The 2011 season so far...

Its half way through the season, which means its time for the very awaited update!!!

So far the 2011 season has been a slow one in terms of nesting. With just under 1,000 records in our beaches, and 398 nests, this has been a sharp decrease compared to previous seasons. However, the results in terms of the protection (our main goal), and the tagging program have been successful.

With only 4 turtles lost to poachers this season (half recorded prior to the beginning of the patrols), and 164 turtles tagged, the teams have remained optimistic, and in good spirits! Also, we had the first hatchlings just a couple of weeks ago, making night patrols and morning surveys a little bit more exciting.

Turtle nesting in Curral Velho beach.
Photo by João Barbosa

In a nutshell:

Lacacão Camp

The team in this camp has been the most active. Curral Velho has the highest activity of all TF beaches, with 125 nests, Lacacão with 61 and Curralito with 42. A total of 542 records, and 263 sightings have been recorded in the data books.

Hatchery at Lacacão Beach, season 2011.
Photo: Turtle Foundation

The hatchery is now closed, with 35 nests inside. The first relocated nests of Lacacão beach, as well as many of the natural nests in Curral Velho have already hatched, and the team will now be busy determining the hatching success rate of the nests in different parts of the beach. Several students are still undertaking their research on Lacacão beach, studies including parasites, genetics, behaviour and abiotic factors affecting embryo development.

Boa Esperança Camp

After 2 months of continuous patrolling, the team is thrilled that there are still plenty of new turtles arriving every night, which could be an indicator that the season is far from slowing down. Since 2011 the beach of Água Doce is patrolled every night, yelding extremely positive results (meaning, no killings). The team there has so far tagged 44 individual turtles, and recorded 97 nests on the coastline between Ponta do Sol and the end of Boa Esperança for a total of 242 activities, and 140 sightings! Two volunteers are conducting a study to assess the inundation risk of the nests on this beach, and we are only waiting for the first hatchlings to emerge to start studying the hatching success rate here a well.

Fundo das Figueiras

The slow tendency for the season is mostly observed in the beaches of Canto and Norte, which yeld a very low activity rate. Yet, between the two beaches, the team there managed to identify at least 48 individual turtles, which is great! The work has mainly focused in securing not only the beaches that we usually patrol, but also the adjacent beaches, with regular patrolling now in the beaches of Gatas, Areia Preta, while the patrol in Canto beach has extended towards the beach of Porto Ferreira. Encounters with poachers have been plenty, however it is the project that so far has no casualties to report! In terms of activity, we report 35 nests in Canto (total of 68 activities) and 38 in Norte (total of 119 activities).

Good work everyone!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trip report from 2 of our board members

Two of our board members from Switzerland visited Boavista a few weeks ago and sent in this trip report:

"After working as volunteers on the Turtle Foundation board since 2006 in accounting and administration, we finally made it to visit one of our projects. For 2 weeks we stayed in Boa Vista and accompanied various people who work for our project as staff, volunteers, scientists or soldiers. We were very much impressed by the high motivation of the whole team, even in difficult conditions such as heat and bugs, electricity and water shortage.

We experienced that walking on the beach for 4-5 hours at night can be very exhausting, but to forget this one needs only a look up to the sky with millions of stars and very bright shooting stars, and, of course, when suddenly in the dark a turtle is spotted. The more experienced patrollers (of course, all of them are more experienced then we “office people”) suddenly signalled to stop and go down to the sand and be quiet. We had to wait in this position until the turtle found the perfect spot and decided to dig a nest and lay the eggs.

On our second night on patrol we felt like part of the team already, and we volunteered to be lookouts on the cliff between Lacacao and Curralito. Our task was to look out for the red lights of the patrol who spotted a turtle and then to wake up the scientists. So we did that at 2 am, except that the red lights were only a test and not a signal and there was no turtle, only very confused patrollers because suddenly everybody from the camp was at the beach!  Some of them decided to sleep right there in the sand, which was wonderful under the stars and near the waves, and fortunately at 4 a.m. a turtle came and made a nest. So everybody was there when the satellite transmitter was placed on the back of the turtle by the scientists of IMF Geomar Kiel, and in bright day light we all saw her going back to the sea.  And the two of us felt better because now we had woken everybody up for a good reason.

We liked the village of Sal Rei very much and walked through almost all the streets. First we saw only a few shops but then we discovered that not all the shops had signs or even windows necessarily. Behind an open door can be a grocery shop, mostly run by Chinese, or we saw somebody coming out of a door with a plastic bag and we discovered a bakery.
We could not get enough looking at the long white sandy beaches with the blue sea and white waves. And we very much enjoyed meeting the friendly local people.

Much impressed and very happy we went back home and back on our computers. We are so glad to be part of this project of protecting sea turtles and we would like to thank everybody for the wonderful job they are doing."

Margrit + Martin, Switzerland


Monday, August 22, 2011

Baby loggerhead turtles tracked for the first time.

For many populations of sea turtles, we have no idea where they go after they swim off to the sea as hatchlings.  It's been called "the lost years".  We see them when they show up as juveniles at feeding grounds, or even later.  But now, thanks to technology and dedicated sea turtle biologists, the youngest turtles ever tracked have been satellite tagged and followed on a 4500 mile journey in the Atlantic ocean.

BabyTurtles tracked swim 4,500 miles across the Atlantic

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rainny Season is here!!!!!

Just when you thought you couldn't stand the heat and humidity anymore, and started to believe it would never rain this season, well... it didn't rain, it POURED! Every year Boavista (and most of Cape Verde) is blessed with a miserable week or so of rain, which despite being short, it is pretty intensive. It is that time of the year when streets get flooded, roads get destroyed, crops vanish, sea turns brown...

To our despair, it is also when our camps get blown away by the wind, get flooded by the rain, volunteers desperately try to save their belongings from getting wet while avoiding catching a really bad cold.

Patrolling in the rain is not fun (at least for most, and definitely not the Capeverdeans, who are not that used to it!!!), and coming back to wet clothes and soggy sleeping bag is very unpleasent. However, volunteers and team members in both camps dealt with all the flooding and destruction with a smile.

As for the turtles, yes. The day of the storm, as usual, a high number of turtles came ashore, ensuring that we would get very wait while we waited for each one of them to return safely to the sea. The next day, water was dirty, smelly and cold. We got wet for nothing, they didn't come!! Yet, we patiently patrol and wait for those who come anyways, raining or not.

But its not all bad, this rain. After all, it is after the rainy season, that Boavista has more reasons to smile. The same annoying and disruptive rain that drives us crazy for a couple of weeks a year eventually give away to the brightest shades of green, to new plants growing everywhere, to fat and healthy looking goats and dunkeys. It is now that Boavista gets rid of all the dust in accumulated for months, and looks really clean. And beautiful. As always, but with brighter colours.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Scout group participates in Boa Esperança

It was in August that the first (and hopefuly not the last) group of Scouts from Boavista participated for the weekend in the protection camp of Boa Esperança.

João Monteiro, one of our local assistants, and also a scouts leader took the initiative, taking only 4 members to see how it would work out. It is hoped that the positive experience will result in more local groups like this one to participate.

Below is the report made by João about the weekend (in Portuguese). He highlighted the interaction with Turtle Foundation activities, as well as the warm welcome received. Other highlights included what the scouts learnt about turtles, their habitats and trash. This group also contributed to the collection of a relatively large amount of trash.

Turtle Foundation was delighted to have worked with the Scouts group, and looks forward to more visits. Thank you!

Relatório do Acampamento CECCV

CECCV- Corpo Escuteiro Católico Cabo-verdiano

No dia 8 de Agosto de 2011 o agrupamento nº5 da Boa Esperança em Boa Vista realizou o 1º acampamento com quatro jovens de ambos os sectores excepto o chefe do grupo.

Actualmente o grupo tem quinze (15) elementos que estão distribuídos em duas secções:

Secção A-Lobito- Com elementos dos seis (6) a doze (12) anos que tem a cor de lenço amarela;

Secção B-Explorador Com membros dos treze (13) aos quinze (15) anos que possuem a cor de lenço verde , enquanto o chefe do acampamento tem a cor de lenço vermelho.

Objectivos Gerais

-Despertar os jovens para a adesão ao grupo de escuteiro católico;

-Promover a divulgação de CECCV;

-Fortalecer e promover laços de amizades entre os escuteiros de varias culturas;

Objectivos Específicos

--Criar um núcleo de expansão do CECCV na ilha da Boa Vista;

-Despertar nos jovens o interesse para a protecção do ambiente e as suas vantagens;

-Sensibilizar a população para o trabalho do voluntariado e ao perigo da extinção das tartarugas marinhas em Cabo Verde;

-Dar oportunidade aos escuteiros a participação nas desovas das tartarugas marinhas;

-Muita criatividade em desenhar as tartarugas e o símbolo do escuteiro no chão;


Aspectos Positivos:

Bom gesto de fraternidade e oportunidade do Turtle Foundation com o grupo dos escuteiros em termos de alojamento durante os três dias de acampamento, também tiveram oportunidade de aprender varias coisas interessantes sobre as tartarugas marinhas com dois dias de formação em que falaram sobre a ( Biodiversidade marinha , tartarugas marinhas , o lixo e as principais ameaças as tartarugas e muitos participantes interessaram para o período de ovação das tartarugas.

-Boa aceitação e acolhimento dos assistentes local e voluntários;

-Aspectos negativos:

-Fraca participação de elementos na acampamento;

-Falta de organização e muita timidez por parte dos participantes no primeiro dia.


Chefe do grupo: João Monteiro

Secção Lobito:

Secção Explorador: Marcos da Lomba

- Beto Lima

-Márcio André

OBS: Durante os três dias de acampamento o grupo fez duas campanhas de limpeza na praia de Boa Esperança, onde o projecto do

Turtle Foundation fez a protecção e conservação das tartarugas marinhas.