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.

First hatchlings of the season!

From Joana:  Its official!!! The first hatchlings of the season have been recorded at Curral Velho beach!!! Will post some pictures if they become available :-)  (Here's a picture of a hatchling while we're waiting)

Satellite tagged turtles return to nest again

From our field coordinator, Joana Hancock:
Two of the turtles tagged with satellite transmitters have already returned to Lacacão beach and nested successfully.  We're very happy to see that the transmitters seem to be still safely installed, and that they have not altered the turtle's nesting behaviour. Soon, update of their movements!
(Loggerhead photo courtesy of volunteer Julie Walmsley)

Monday, August 8, 2011

"School in Nature" program is back!!

Following of the success of the "School in Nature" program last year, mainly in Boa Esperança beach, Turtle Foundation has started a new season last weekend. As last year, the 3 day/2 night program includes oral presentations, video presentations, games on the beach, a lot of beach cleaning, and of course, participation in the night patrols.

This time working with our own limited funds, and independently from the Clube Ambiental da Boavista, we have decided to take a step further, and work with groups both from Boavista, as well as from other islands as well. The first edition this season counted with the participation of 10 local kids, as well as 10 youngsters from the city of Praia, in collaboration with a project that promotes social inclusion of troubled teenagers from the capital.

This exchange was great. Some of these kids have had serious problems at home, or have been living rough in the past years, and it was very nice to see them relax and enjoy a stay in one of the most beautiful beaches of Boavista, in full contact with nature. Some had the opportunity to see turtles nesting as well. The foundation "Infância Feliz" was created by the current First Lady of Cape Verde, Adelcia Pires, who Turtle Foundation had the honour to meet several times; the main purpose of this foundation is to promote the rights of Cape Verdean children regardless of where he or she lives with special focus on at-risk children.

This collaboration started with the goal of strengthening the ties between the First Lady and Turtle Foundation, in a sign of mutual respect for eachother's work. We hope to receive at least one more group this season! (for full description of this foundation -in portuguese only- we suggest this website:

At least 4 more camps are planned during the season, in Boa Esperança, Canto and Varandinha beaches, and we are currenlty starting new collaborations with other partners, such as Galaxy group, Estrelas de Rabil, and Instituto Caboverdiano da Criança e Adolescente, all based in Boavista. Also, this project has been supported so far by CV Telecom, ASA, and the Marine Club. Thank you!

Keep an eye for more news about this project!