Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Turtles nesting all over Boavista

Turtles are nesting in extraordinary numbers throughout Boavista this season, so much so that even the beaches around Sal Rei are receiving nesting turtles every night. 

This remarkable development deserves a special protection strategy.  The Turtle Foundation team was eager to get involved in this new challenge and support local initiatives! 

Mr Roque and a turtle track in Baia do Ervatao
 We recently met Mr. Roque, the guardian of Cabral beach, who for the past three years has been voluntarily protecting Cabral beach and Ervatao bay, a small rocky beach behind the hotel Marine Club.  Both beaches pose problems to nesting sea turtles.  Cabral is one of the busiest beaches for locals and tourists on the weekends.  Unfortunately, in addition to city light pollution, people drive and park their cars on the beach and quad tours pass through every day.  Ervatao Bay is hard to access and very rocky, but turtles do come to nest and spend a long time searching for suitable places to dig, making them easy targets for poachers. 

Because this is such a busy season, Mr. Roque needs help to protect these beaches, and the turtles, nests and hatchlings on them. 

In addition, Estoril beach has been also receiving regular visits from nesting turtles.  On this beach, besides the light pollution from bars, restaurants and hotels, there are quad tours compacting the sand, destroying the dunes and their vegetation and affecting nests and hatchlings.
Poaching activities of both turtles and eggs has already been recorded on these three beaches, heightening the risks for turtles and their offspring.

Praia Cabral

Cabral beach - nests and cars tracks
Barroso and Roque, Cabral beach
Turtle Foundation promptly began to help Mr. Roque and a group of vocal volunteers from Estoril beach (Rudy and Joao were the first ones!) to protect these beaches. First, we gathered people from Sal Rei and the surrounding regions interested in helping protect the urban beaches and their nesting turtles. We went for a survey in Ervatao Bay with Mr. Roque to count the activities. The following night, volunteers did the first night patrol. Mr. Roque and his volunteers (Nito and Rubens, from Sal Rei, and Eva and Amanda, from Turtle Foundation) went to these beaches in the night of August 1st to check the nesting activities and ensure the safety of any potential nesting turtle. 

Census in Ervatao Bay

This group engaged in the protection of the urban beaches close to Boavista's capital is still in need of volunteers for turtle protection patrols at night as well as help building nest protection to prevent them from being destroyed by quad bikes and other vehicles.

a protected nest, Cabral beach
If you are in Sal Rei and want to help, please contact Mr. Roque (+238) 994 49 66 or Turtle Foundation (+238)  955 69 51, or meet the team at the open air gymnasium in Cabral at 9pm, every night.

2012 School in Nature starts!

School in Nature has started last weekend. A great team was involved in its organization and thanks to it, the first of the 5 youth camps was a success. A big thanks to Isaac and Rita (renewable energy students, TF volunteers for 4 weeks and special guests in School in Nature), Yanick (School in Nature veteran camp leader), Melanie (local volunteer in Boa Esperança camp, School in Nature camp leader), Domingos (Protected Areas Park Guard - Boa Esperança Camp), Lynette (Peace Corps, Turtle Foundation volunteer for 2 consecutives seasons, camp leader in School in Nature), Julie and Ronny (Boa Esperança Camp coordinators) and to everyone from Boa Esperança team for all the help.

School in Nature and Boa Esperança teams
 "The School in Nature opened with a scurry of activity and planning at Boa Esperança camp on Friday, August 3rd, as 23 youth from Sal Rei arrived to learn about turtles and the environment. Special guests from Lisbon University – Portugal, Rita Almeida and Isaac Carrelo provided the camp theme of renewable energy in addition to lots of turtle and beach fun. 

The campers were divided into 4 teams, named after turtles found in the sea around Cape Verde, and competed throughout the duration of the camp. Each team was assigned a Turtle Foundation Cape Verdean and International Volunteer partner to help their team compete and participate in camp activities. Marine Club Hotel kindly provided food for the participants.

The arrival at the camp
Lets start with a game!

The first evening the campers were introduced to turtles in a powerpoint presentation done by Ronny and Amanda about turtle nesting and conservation work. Then, two teams got to experience their first night patrol on the beach led by Lynette and Melanie, while Amanda, Rita, Isaac and Domingos remained at the camp with the rest of the campers to watch films and music videos and get aquainted. The lucky junior rangers on the beach patrol saw numerous tracks from turtles, and when they reached the shipwreck near the end of the beach, they eagerly witnessed a turtle making 4 attempts before she finally dug a nest and laid her eggs. A couple boys got to put their new ranger training into practice as they crossed the tracks in the sand to notify later patrols that this nest had been recorded.

Saturday morning began early with a military style workout led by the camp troups on the beach. After breakfast, the kids had no time to stop before they were competing in a fast paced beach cleanup to make the biggest pile of trash. When everyone was exhausted from a marvelous job that left the once trash ridden beach beautiful and clean, we all headed to the water for a couple hours of skimboard, bodysurfing, and lots of beach fun.

Exercise early in the morning
Race to clean the beach
An afternoon lesson on renewable energy by Rita and Isaac was followed by a series of beach games, turtle sand sculptures and swimming. Saturday night, the groups switched for patrol and in camp fun.  The two teams who had not yet patrolled found it well worth the wait when their patrol yeilded three turtles, including two nests. We made it back from patrol not long before the rains came, and awoke Sunday morning to a cloudy day, disappointingly preventing Rita and Isaac from teaching the campers to make solar cars on schedule.
Isaac and Rita talking about renewable energy in Cape Verde

Football time

Having fun in the waves
Fortunately, the sun came out in the afternoon, and the cars were a huge success.  Two teams worked on each car, designing it with recycled materials. One group made a sturdy if slow boxy (juicebox) car while the other opted for a speedy milk carton race car that required frequent repairs. Races were held, but in the end a tie was announced!

Building the solar cars
Testing the inventions
small repairs were necessary

Isaac proud of his team

The camp ended with some more beach fun and announcements of winners and thanks to all participants for their hard work and enthusiasm making the school in nature a fun filled and educational weekend for leaders, volunteers, and campers alike." Lynette 
Congrats for the good work!

Time to say goodbye