Saturday, July 30, 2011

Three turtles equipped with satellite transmitters at Lacacão Beach

In the last week of July, Turtle Foundation Camp in Lacacão was invaded by this sense of mission, urgency and excitement! A research project, led by Dr. Christophe Eizaguirre and Victor Stiebens from the University of Kiel, a collaboration with Turtle Foundation and the INDP (National Institute of Fisheries Development), required the placement of three satellite trackers on loggerheads in Boavista.

With the season taking off with a slow start, but research needs a priority, a set of invited scientists with a tight schedule waited with impatience night after night for three shelled candidates for a satellite transmitter. On the second night (23rd of July) luck struck us, and around 4am the team got warned that a turtle was nesting in Curralito beach. This was double luck for us, as not only it meant that we would only finish our work with the turtle with the sun rising, but also that everyone in the camp could come and see it once it was released back in the ocean.

All work was done under the close supervision and guidance of the experienced Dr. Gail Schofield (University of Swansea, UK). The next two transmitters didn't get placed until the 25th of July, but once again, on a lucky night, two turtles came ashore almost at the same time, this time in Lacacão beach, this time early in the night. We all sighed with relief, and were very happy with this sense that the hardest part of the field work was accomplished.

Now the research will continue. The transmitters are obtaining information about water temperature, salinity among other physio-chemical properties of the ocean water, while movements of the turtles, both inter-nesting and post-migration will be recorded. At the beach, information about physical condition of the nesting sea turtles, parasite presence as well as a genetic study is still taking place by the researchers of the University of Kiel, who will remain with us most of the season at the Lacacão Camp.

We are very thankful for the trust deposited in Turtle Foundation by all members of the research team. We wish all of them good luck, and good work!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jake Woodier report from Lacacão Camp

By Jake Woodier

I arrived in Cape Verde without much of a clue of what I had volunteered for except that I would be taking part in hard, but very important work to protect Loggerhead Turtles which I knew are an endangered species. After landing at the airport I was picked up by Ukie of the Turtle Foundation and then we made our way to the office which is in Sal Rei, the biggest town on the island. When we got to the office I was introduced to the team of Christian, Julio and Joana who I had previously met when I was studying Marine Biology and Ecology at Falmouth Marine School. Now was the time to drive to Lacacao Camp where I am spending my entire stay and this is where I will start the work of doing my part to help protect Loggerheads that come ashore to nest.

After 3 and a half weeks of working here I now understand not only why the Loggerhead is protected because of its endangered species status but also because it is an incredible creature. The first turtle that I was lucky enough to see nest appeared on July 15th and I can easily say that it was one of the most amazing moments of my life. As soon as the turtle was spotted I was captivated by its pure brilliance and magnificent beauty. As part of the work I am doing here I measured the top of the carapace or shell of the turtle along the width and the length which was the first bit of hands on work for me. I then watched as another more experienced member of the team tagged the turtle so that we can record data if she comes to nest again on one of the beaches that we protect. After she finished nesting she started to move sideways along the beach seemingly toward the ambient lighting but then after 30 or so minutes she gracefully dissappeared into the ocean to hopefully come back and nest again.

Life in camp is really amazing and wasn't too hard to adjust to after spending the last two years in student accommodation. The camp never really has a dull moment as there is always discussion to be had as there are so many interesting personalities staying due to having a team of international volunteers. We also have many tasks to do during the day which have included extending our kitchen area with a new wall of palm leaves to give extra space as the team grows larger. You start to fall into a routine in the camp which I can't complain about which involved waking up to have a coffee and some breakfast which is sometimes cooked like an omlette, then spend some time doing any chores that need to be done for the day, read a book for a while, do any maintenance work in the camp, peel some vegetables for lunch, eat some lunch, read more and then head down to the beach to swim for a while, eat a bit more, read, sleep, help with the hatchery, return to camp, peel more vegetables, write in journal, patrol or sleep for a few hours then patrol.

I have also visited the town of Sal Rei for a break which was needed to rest thoroughly after working for a long time. The town is very small but very nice and includes an assortment of cafe/bars, food shops and souveneir shops. The people in Sal Rei are always talkative and very friendly and are always interested when you tell them you are volunteering for the Turtle Foundation. If you have a laptop you are able to use wi-fi for free in the town square which is where the majority of people can be found. If you cannot use the wi-fi then there are a couple of places in town to use the internet to keep in touch with family and friends if you are volunteering for a long time. I am here for 7 weeks so after three I decided it was important to use the internet to update my family and friends properly and it was good to catch up with my family.

One of the highlights of my time here was spending my birthday on the island as the camp went to a huge effort to make cake, special food and gave me the luxury of choosing my patrol for the night. All things considered it was one of my best birthdays and it was highly enjoyable

Sunday, July 24, 2011

News from our colleagues in Sal: turtle saved from slaughter

A very lucky turtle was found by rangers in Sal who found her almost completely buried in the sand.  The hunters would certainly have come back later to kill her.  For pictures, see SOS Tartaruga's Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sea turtle research partnership

Great news! On July 18th a team of scientists arrived in Boavista, to carry on a very important sea turtle study. This research will be carried out by a partnership between the INDP and University of Kiel, with the collaboration of Turtle Foundation. We are very excited! Original posting from the INDP can be found on the following link (in Portuguese)  http://blogdastartarugas.blogs​

The translation follows: 

Scientific research in partnership with the University of Kiel / INDP
July 18, 2011

In 2011, besides continuing with the collection of genetic data, also during the breeding season of the Caretta caretta (loggerhead turtle or common), six transmitters will be attached to breeding females to follow their migratory route via satalite.

The activity has the funding and scientific support of two experts, Dr. Victor and Dr. Christophe Eizaguirre Stiebens, Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences IFM-GEOMAR in Kiel.

Satellite tagging and oceanographic data will provide knowledge of the regions in which these marine turtles feed and reside between nesting events.

Two main objectives:

1) Contribute to research on the migratory routes of sea turtles during and after the nesting season, the better to establish programs to protect them. Cape Verde hosts the third largest world population of the species C. caretta, but its dynamics remains a mystery. The satellite transmitters will allow monitoring of the species around the islands and also get information about the depth that can be achieved, the feeding grounds, among others.

2) In the context of climate change, there is another emerging threat, with the possible increase of diseases in marine animals caused by global warming, becoming a new challenge of science and survival of sea turtles. The transmitters allow collection of oceanographic information such as the variation of temperature, salinity and oxygen, which are fundamental parameters to increase knowledge about the oceans, therefore, an asset for protection programs and management of marine resources.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Triple surprise for birthday team in Boa Esperança Camp!

This week was full of surprises for the Boa Esperança Camp. With three of its staff members celebrating their birthday around the same date, surely we had to throw some sort of celebration! The first surprise was on the 4th of July, when Julie and Ronny were on patrol on their birthday, and they tagged the first turtle of the season in Boa Esperança :-)

On the 6th it was Wilson's time to celebrate so... We came in! The cake was a surprise easy to predict, but surely Julie, Ronny and Wilson didn't expect a crowd to burst into the camp at tea time with some nice chocolate cake and cold drinks! So it was great to see their faces when a car full of people arrived ready to celebrate their birthday.

However, the biggest surprise was given by the team itself. While on censo in the nearby beach of Agua Doce, Julie and Emma Lockley came across a glass bottle freshly washed ashore with... A MESSAGE.

Of course most would think that surely these things only happen in the movies, but it was true, we were all very excited! We careful broke the bottle, to reveal the its contents.

It wasn't as exciting as someone lost in a desert island needing help, but, you can read the message in the photo. Emma already emailed the sailors who sent the message, will let you know the outcomes!

Turtle Foundation visits projects in S. Nicolau

It was with great joy that Turtle foundation accepted the invitation of the Municipalities of Ribeira Brava and Tarrafal de S. Nicolau to attend a series of workshops that took place in São Nicolau island in the last weekend (1-2 July, 2011).

São Nicolau is thought to be the forth most important island for loggerhead sea turtle nesting in Cape Verde, recording each year 300 nests or more on its tiny beaches.

Participants in the workshop that took place in Ribeira Brava
The two workshops counted with the participation of local volunteers, authorities, government representatives, a representative of INDP and one representative of Turtle Foundation, Joana Hancock. Turtle Foundation was asked to talk about sea turtle biology, beach monitoring protocol, and the importance of conservation projects as well as socio-economic alternatives.

We were pleased to see so much interest from the local municipalities and authorities in collaborating with the local efforts. 

Currently several initiatives are taking place in the island, including "Esperança" project, with the collaboration of Camara Municipal de Ribeira Brava and the INDP, while the protection of the north of the island is assured by Camara Municiapl do Tarrafal de S. Nicolau.

Original article announcing the worshop in S. Nicolau:

For more ifnormation about the Esperança project, visit their blog (in Portuguese):

For more background information about the porject in Tarrafal de S. Nicolau: