Every year, between late May and September, more than 3,000 loggerhead turtles come ashore Cape Verde‘s beaches to nest.
Sadly the turtle population is threatened by poachers who kill the turtles for meat and in 2007 Turtle SOS was set up to protect turtles on Sal. Beach patrols were organised to prevent the turtles from being hunted, and a specially designed hatchery was built to shelter nests that are at risk and need moving either because they’ve been laid below the tide line, or belong to turtles that have been killed.
A new camp in Praia Chano protects turtles on the north coast of Sal; last year 30 turtles were killed here but in 2014 beach patrols ensured none were killed.
At the end of last month the number of nests on Sal reached 1295, 188 (14.5%) of which needed to be relocated to the safety of the hatchery. The number of turtles and nests varies each year due to many factors but this season (red line on the graph) can be compared to 2009. The graph shows the number of nests increasing through September over the last couple of years and this is because the patrols early on in the season prevent turtle deaths and allow a longer nesting season. In 2014 only 6 turtles were killed, but in 2008 and 2009 many more turtles were killed in June and July causing a drop in nesting later on in the season.
Pedra de Lume is best known for its extinct volcano and many tourists pass through the village to visit the salt flats inside. Pedra de Lume is also a fishing community with several nesting beaches and the local community join the patrols to protect the turtles. The community have plans to build a hatchery as light pollution means that many hatchlings move inland instead of towards the sea and don’t survive.
Team have also been busy with an injured male loggerhead turtle who was found entangled in a net and was bought ashore to be cut free. On removing the net it became clear that he also had a large fishing hook stuck in his mouth which was quickly taken out. The turtle, who’s an impressive 120 cm in length with a carapace (shell) length of 85 cm, is now resting and will be released when he’s recovered from his ordeal.
You can help protect turtles by doing the following things:
- Never buy or consume any turtle products.
- Choose a turtle friendly hotel or resort.
- Dispose of litter responsibly – turtles die from eating plastic and other rubbish.
- Only visit turtle nesting beaches at night with a qualified guide. Only SOS Tartarugas are authorised by the government to conduct turtle watching tours on Sal. It may be dangerous to go to beaches at night with unlicensed ‘guides’.
- Don’t visit illegal turtle attractions.
- Don’t visit bars that are illegally built on nesting beaches.
Island Holiday Specialists
At Archipelago Choice, our small friendly team of island holiday specialists has been organising tailor-made holidays to the Azores since 1998 and more recently to Cape Verde, Saõ Tomé and Príncipe. Over this time we have developed the most comprehensive, flexible and fairly priced holidays to these beautiful islands.
All the holidays we organise are put together with great care using our extensive knowledge of the islands and our experience of travelling around them. We try very hard to give the most choice and flexibility possible combining activities, accommodation and island hopping so we put together holidays that best suit our clients.
So whether you want to go whale watching, walking, canyoning, kite surfing or just relaxing on the beach, you can be sure our team of island holiday specialists will be able to help.