Thursday, May 26, 2011

Turtle Foundation receives grant from SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund

Turtle Foundation is thrilled to announce that we have received a SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund grant in support of our loggerhead conservation project in Cape Verde.  This fund has granted over 6 million dollars to more than 500 projects worldwide for wildlife conservation, research and education.  We are  happy to be associated with SeaWorld and Busch Gardens and to share their goal of encouraging stewardship of the natural world and its wonders.  For more information on their work, go to:

Workshop presentation of the "National Plan for the Conservation of Sea Turtles in Cape Verde"

"The national plan for the conservation of marine turtles in Cape Verde" will come into force later this year and will be made known in all the islands in the coming months, said the coordinator of the plan, Sonia Araujo, the Directorate-General Environment. 

The plan announced yesterday that the government provides for "ensuring sustainable conservation of sea turtles," providing the means to implement conservation activities and promote the application of the law. 
Cape Verde ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1995 and since 2005 is part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Regionally, Cape Verde is part of the Regional Programme for the Conservation of Marine and Coastal Zone of West Africa (PRCM) and the Regional Unit Conservation of Sea Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa (URTOMA). 

Although this plan has been ratified, and laws already exist to protect the turtles, enforcement has been problematic and the slaughter has continued, prompting Turtle Foundation's protection project.  Turtle Foundation is working with the government and all stakeholders to help implement the National Plan.

Interestingly, if my google translate is correct, the article states that the loggerhead turtles"are not yet on the list of endangered animals in the short term".  I beg to differ with that assessment; this population is currently listed as threatened and under review for listing as endangered.  

The original article is in Portuguese and may be viewed here: Sistema de Informação Ambiental

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New hotel RIU – TOUAREG is now open in Lacacão beach

It was about a week ago that the controversial new hotel in Lacacão beach was inaugurated and welcomed their first guests (Fig.1).

Built in one of the most important nesting sites of the Loggerhead sea turtle in Cape Verde, Lacacão beach, its construction phase caused many environmental and social impacts in the island, and was the main reason why Turtle Foundation initiated a protection program here in 2009. With more than 500 construction site workers based at the construction site during the nesting season, poaching of the turtles was a recurrent problem, and very difficult to control. Despite our efforts, several dozens of turtles were slaughtered on this beach in the last few years.

As the construction is now completed, we hope that the poaching pressure will decrease. However new problems will arise, most importantly the impact of the lights from the hotel in the behaviour of nesting turtles and emerging hatchlings (Fig.2); removal of natural nesting sites for creation of leisure areas (Fig.3); obstruction to nesting females by beach furniture (Fig.4), easier access to the beach due to improved roads (Fig.5) (All images presented are from the new hotel, and were taken this week).

Over the last week Turtle Foundation staff participated in several meetings with responsibles from TUI and RIU, to try to find a effective collaboration in the mitigation of the impact of the threats mentioned above. This included the visit of an expert on the mitigation of light impact on nesting beaches from Florida, Mr. Erik Martin (from our blog:, and the presentation of a detailed proposal. We will also carry out an intensive nest management program on this beach, as well as conduct a study on the impact of the lights on the behaviour of both nesting turtles and hatchlings.

The nesting season is due to start in about 1 month, and we are expectant to see whether the suggested measures will take place, and that the impact of this hotel will cause minimum impact on the nesting turtles and hatchlings. Please visit our blog for updates in the following months.

For more information about this hotel, the future Lacacão Golf and Beach Resort, and other related news, visit the following link:

Turtle Foundation supports new turtle project in Boavista

We are proud to announce that in 2011 season, Turtle Foundation will support a community project aimed at the protection of the turtles nesting in the 3 Km long Varandinha beach, in south Boa Vista.

In late 2009, our team visited the beach of Varandinha, one of the prettiest in the island, to find more than 60 carcasses of slaughtered turtles (see prevous post on our website:; it was obvious that this beach needed urgent protection. The community based project started in 2010 with the financial support of GEF – Small Grants Program, however funding didn’t come through for 2011, meaning the beach would be left unprotected. When we heard these bad news, we immediately decided to fund the protection program there.

This initiative is unique in the island, in that protection is ensured by a group of 14 people from Povoação Velha, several of them were former poachers. The leader of this group, Eng. Henrique Cruz, is a well respected person in the island, and president of the Fishermen’s Association of Boavista. About this partnership he said “we are thrilled about this support, and happy that we can continue this important work, to prevent the sea turtles to be slaughtered in this beach and ensure that the turtles are saved for future generations”. He highlighted that future goals of this initiative will include development of ecotourism initiatives, and the creation of an environmental information centre.

Our team is very excited about this collaboration, and wishes this group a very successful season!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More turtle art, more from our volunteers!

Besides being volunteer in the Turtle Foundation Projects, Sam Francis is also the director and designer of Dirty Graffix, a company specialized in clothing design. He created a t-shirt "inspired by the 1 in only 1000 baby turtles that make it to adulthood". Check it out:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sam Francis' blog about his volunteer experiences

Sam was a volunteer with Turtle Foundation last September (during the rainy season!).  He's written a blog about his experiences - it's wonderful!  Here are some excerpts:

"My day to day life goes like this- wake up breakfast coffee swim read walk eat swim games sleep, then it gets to the evening and eat patrol poachers tag turtle help turtle monitor turtle chill sleep. I love it." 

"Almost every one I have met here has been really honest, genuine and friendly. Its refreshing and an amazing lesson in life being here. Every one is from a different background, a different country, working in different roles and yet we work so well together. . . Being here is not just beneficial for the turtles, its also about living and working together with people who until now had not existed in your life. It really is a great lesson and experience."

"It was an amazing feeling, my first releases. The feelings of satisfaction, triumphant hope, and the journey ahead all mixed together. The finish line had been reached for these hatchlings; the ultimate reason beyond the poachers, tagging the mothers and collecting the research came at this point. The final part of the reason I was there, the moment I had been waiting for was bliss."

check it out:

More turtle art

My grandmother, an artist, has been doing some work inspired by the oil spill.  Her name is Olga Seem, and here are two of her latest works, called "Crude Attack."  Other recent work, ocean related, can be seen at

Study looks at risk of pollution for Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Migrating Sea Turtles Pick Up More Pollution

One of the many threats loggerhead sea turtles face is man-made pollution, but the extent of the risk is a question. To begin to look for the answer scientists have measured contaminants in the blood of a group of adult male turtles and tracked their migration along the Atlantic Coast.

The group, led by Jared M. Ragland, a graduate student at the College of Charleston, in Charleston, S.C., captured 19 loggerheads near Cape Canaveral, Fla., in 2006 and 2007. Group members measured and weighed the turtles, took blood samples, and examined their reproductive systems with testicular biopsies. Then they fitted them with satellite transmitters and released them. Over two months, 10 of the animals traveled north as far as Cape May, N.J., while nine remained near Cape Canaveral.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, found that the animals had measurable blood levels of 67 different chemicals used in pesticides and other industrial products. The loggerheads that migrated had higher levels than those that stayed near Florida, confirming prior research that found more pollutants in turtles in northern latitudes.

It is possible that the fish and invertebrates that turtles feed on in northern waters are more polluted, but the scientists point out that turtles that migrate eat more, and therefore consume more pollutants. Migrating turtles were on average larger than the permanent residents.

The animals seemed healthy, researchers said, but what constitutes good health in an adult male loggerhead is not clear. “These were reproductively active animals,” said Jennifer M. Keller, a co-author of the study and a biologist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “But the males have higher blood levels of contaminants than the juveniles, and that adds to our concern.”