SOS Tartarugas works in Cape Verde protecting nesting loggerheads turtles (Caretta caretta) and their habitat. Cape Verde is the third most important nesting area for loggerheads in the world. Turtles are at risk from hunting for meat, stealing of eggs, removal of sand for building and unregulated tourism development. Our email is
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Strange days indeed...

8.30am Phone rings, the police have a turtle in the station.  Fly out the door thinking it's a live turtle that has been recovered - no such luck - it's the remains of a turtle, everything but the meat which is already on it's way to be sold.  The night before, our Rangers alerted the military on the beach that there was a turtle taken on Costa Fragata, the military called the police and together they found the culprits.  Unfortunately it was too late for the turtle.  Once again we are required to take photos for evidence and to our dismay we see that one of them is a guy called Gongon, who was caught, fined and released only a couple of weeks ago.  So the entire system works except the judiciary who are giving paltry fines and sending the criminals straight back out with a suspended sentence.  Surely now, they will go to jail?

10am A call from the Camara Municipal - someone has reported that a turtle nest has appeared on the beach in front of Porto Antigo - it has a huge cage around it - was it something to do with us and should it have been left there?  Go round to see it and the mystery grows - it's nothing to do with us - how did it get there?  The Camara Municipal ask me to call the police since interference with a nesting turtle or the eggs is a crime unless you are authorised, but I ask for some time to find out the full story.

11am A third call, this time from Neptunus (yellow sub), they have a turtle, can we come right away.  Get down to the pier and climb aboard.  They have a female loggerhead turtle - she is obviously very sick with bulging eyes and abnormally yellow skin.  She was found floating around Ponta Sino, unable to dive down and clearly exhausted.  She needs to be assessed and given some time to rest.  Formulate a plan and the whole team swings into action.  Neal goes down to ask Josh Angulo if we can use their small pool, we are very happy that he agrees.  Someone else calls Fatima, our wonderful vet, who is always ready to help us.  Odessia (watersports company by the pier) kindly suggest the use of their quad and trailer to bring her to the road and Tony, a pick up driver is waiting to drive her to the far end of Santa Maria.  Meanwhile, Hattie, Chris & Carolyne are having all kinds of difficulties.  A man called Mingos will not allow any of our team near the turtle, shouting and screaming 'I know what you do, I know all about your project. this is my land, this is my turtle' etc etc.  By this time there are hordes of people surrounding the poor turtle.  The outcome?  Hattie is pushed out of the way and the turtle is returned to the sea to who knows what fate.  It had been explained to Mingos that the turtle was sick and needed help, but Mingos was determined to create a problem and stirred up a mini riot that we were powerless to prevent.  The only upside?  After thinks had calmed down, we found a few more sympathetic Capeverdian men who want to help.

Never a dull moment ....

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Extracts from last night's log (Four turtles saved, much craziness)

Beach at Serra Negra
Hattie (Serra Negra 9pm-1am) : "OMG what a night.... JC & I decided to do a short patrol on SN.  On our way over we saw lights, not a good thing, then when we arrived we saw a truck, really not a good thing.  JC & I walked quickly towards poacher heaven, Bay 3.  When we got there we found a few more people than we were expecting - around eight people sitting in the cave with a lot of supplies and cooler boxes, really set up for the night.  Sat there for a while then watched from the top of the cliff.  See another guy on Bay 2 and decide to go back to Bay 1 to get phone reception and call for back up.  Hear all about the two flipped turtles on Algodoeiro and call Neal to deal with that.  Rush back to Bay 3 and find two of the hunters calmly watching a nesting turtle.  Talk quietly to them to explain what we are doing when we tag her and try to get them to name her, no go, so Jacquie names her 'Double-date. ' Drunk guy starts tickling my feet - very not cool, move away.  He then starts throwing sand everywhere trying to help the turtle to cover up, then when she stops he follows her down pointing at the sea and shouting "go, go, go"!!!  You would expect that to be the end of the story, but no, he comes back up the beach, lies on her nest and fills in her body pit.  He looked like a huge turtle, so funny.  Ben and Pilar arrive and take over drunk-watch.  Apparently Francesco and the police came but they didn't find us, so obviously they left even though the quad was there and the truck "
Pilar (Serra Negra 1am-6am) : "My first patrol.  Al the interesting stuff happened at the beginning of the night when Ben woke me up three hours earlier than expected and told me there was an emergency at SN.  After waiting for the police and talking with some guys who explained to us what turtle eggs tasted like, we finally went alone.  The night consisted of walking, sitting, walking... we saw nothing, literally nothing, the sky was full of clouds and I found it hard to recognise my feet."
Nerissa (Walking Algodoeiro with tourists) : "An action packed night which at present is still continuing to unfold.  Saw three dodgy looking characters, one was walking around at the back.  Janice and Chris went to investigate and found a flipped turtle (still intact and very much alive).  We tagged, flipped her over and got her back to the sea.  As we were leaving Neal phoned and said there was a second flipped turtle near us.  A very happy group of tourists who were very helpful and supportive of our actions."
Saved turtle on Algodoeiro
James (Algodoiero 9pm - 6am) : Well... a very interesting night, I am very tired so I will just stick to the facts.  Heard that Nerissa had an upside down turtle, helped her and then Victor said he heard bottles rattling.  Went to check it out and there she was, a turtle underneath a large sheet.  We untangled her, flipped her over and sent her on her way.  Three men near the left soon after we arrived.
Carolyne (Costa Fragata 1am-6am) : Reached Fridge and found turtle tracks up but not down.  Stef explained everything, tagged the turtle and we walked her back to the sea.  More tracks on Ponta Jelonga and messy tracks and lots of footprints.  Stef followed the track to find an upside down turtle.  She hadn't been harmed but was obviously in some distress.  Stef tagged her, we turned her over and watched her go back to the sea... v. slowly & in the wrong direction, at least the long way round!!!
Hattie (Morning patrol 6am - 9am) : Very tired.  After only two hours sleep I was woken at 5am by Stef, another upside down turtle .... seriously??  No luck getting hold of anyone at the police.  Rubbish!  Told Stef to just tag her and flip her back and put her back in the sea.  Ben and Pilar arrive safely back from Serra Negra, no more drama.  End of long night but what a fantastic success!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thomson gives a helping hand

Following our appeal for tents for the soldiers, we managed to purchase six tents from the UK and Thomson have kindly agreed to ship them free of charge. Thanks a lot!  Also thanks to Peter and Linda for taking them to the airport.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two more turtles saved on Serra Negra

A hunter was out last night on Serra Negra and had managed to turn two turtles upside down before our intrepid Rangers, Ben & Laura managed to scare him off.  He had already begun the grisly job of butchering one of them while she was still alive.  He had already inflicted a cut down the centre of her abdomen and had started to saw off her flippers when he was disturbed.  She was returned to the sea but was obviously in a great deal of shock and pain and for a while could not manage to float the right way up or swim.  The second turtle was returned unharmed to the sea. 

The hunter was obviously intent on staying the whole night as he had brought food, coffee and plenty of clothing.  He had also been studying the way we work and had attempted to fake a track back to the sea, even bringing a bush from another part of the beach and covering the upside down turtle with it.

Unfortunately for him he ran off without his belongings and these are now in police custody as evidence.  The police believe they know who the culprit is and will be interviewing him later.
Neal and our newest Ranger, Fogo at the police station with the hunter's belongings

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The state of our beaches

Mass destruction of beaches on the west coast of Sal.  No good for people or turtles.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A new network for turtle protection in Cape Verde

At the end of June the second conference of people and organisations active in turtle conservation in Cabo Verde took place in Boa Vista.  The network was christened 'Taola' - a combination of "Tartaruga Marinha" (marine turtle) and "Krioula" (the language spoken here).

Amongst the many issues discussed, the removal of sand from beaches for construction was high up on the agenda and following the conference this practice has been thrown into the spotlight.

Despite laws prohibited this activity, the Municipal Chamber of São Filipe on Fogo is allowing building companies to scoop up large amounts of sand from one of the few beaches remaining on which turtles can nest.

In the first joint action of the group, Taola has issued a statement calling for this practice to cease immediately and asking the Municipal Chamber to "Not just be a signatory of the Convention of Biological Diversity but to actually put into practice actions which allow the protection of endangered species"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Posters in Santa Maria

"This turtle was born in Sal around 20 years ago.  She nested in 2008 and was tagged and then named 'Linda' by a young girl in Santa Maria.

This is how her life ended on Costa Fragata. 

Not only was her life lost but the lives of hundreds of turtles that would have been born from her eggs left scattered around her body.


Join the fight!  Save Sal's turtles for future generations.

Call 132 if you know anyone killing turtles or selling turtle meat."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Princess Fiona - snatched from the jaws of death

11.30pm the phone goes.  It's Phil, they have a turtle and she is upside down a kilometre from the beach.  They are in the Cotton Bay (Algodoeiro) area and have probably just scared off the hunters.
They have tried to lift her but the turtle probably weighs more than Janice and it is a no go on that front. 

Instantly wide awake, Neal & I run for the big torch, quad keys and phones and we're out the door.  Call Paulo who is on Costa Fragata and ask him to call the police.  The culprits are probably still around.  The police say 'no transport, sorry' but then change their minds and tell us they will come if we collect them.  Race round to the police station and Neal heads off on the quad while I wait for the taxi.  Two lovely policemen hop in and we're off. 

Driving down towards the beach, for once we are making noise and lights blazing - we want the hunters to know that the police are coming.  Locate Phil and Janice and the turtle who had a near death experience and all is well.  She is full of beans and heading back to the sea. 

Meanwhile another pick up turns up and another six policemen get out!  They have driven right through the settlement in the oasis which is most likely where the hunters are and they will go back there to ask some questions.  What a great deterrent. 

Slow progress with the turtle though, so it's 'up you go' and on to the back of the quad.  "She won't like that" I say as she starts flapping her flippers in the vicinity of Neal's arms and legs and yes, she lands him a couple of good ones right on the arse!!!

Down to the shore and she's off into the sea as if nothing ever happens.  We go home wired and unable to sleep and Phil and Janice continue their vigilance for the rest of the night.

Three questions remain:
1. Why is it Janice who always finds upside down turtles?
2. Why is it always me & Neal on call when there is an upside down turtle?
3. Why has a turtle been called Princess Fiona?

Just your regular night in turtleville.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The reality of our work

Saved one, lost another.  Last night near Costa Fragata, this turtle was killed.  She nested in 2008 and was tagged and named 'Linda' by a small girl from Santa Maria.  Not only has her life been lost but also that of hundreds of turtles that would have been born from the eggs that have been left scattered around her. 

Join the fight! 

Help to save Sal's turtles before it's too late.

"Lucky Kite" saved

Another lucky turtle found on her back waiting for death was saved by Rangers on Friday night.  She was found at the back of the dunes on Kite Beach, a popular area for hunters as the access is so easy.  "Lucky Kite" was tagged, named and returned safely to the sea and a turtle looking just like her was seen to nest later that night apparently none the worse for her experience!  If you would like to name a turtle please email us ( - the suggested minimum donation is €60.  We only name tagged turtles so we can let you know when she is seen again (she will nest between four and seven times this season).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Turtle Walks have started!

Now the season is in full swing and turtles are being seen every night, our tourism team have started our turtle watching programme.

The tours start at 20:30 and finish around 22:30 (the end time varies especially if the group are with a nesting turtle!)  We regret that we cannot take children under 10 years old.

The tours are very popular so please try to book in advance by calling (00238) 974 5019 or emailing  You can also reserve your place at Manta Diving Centre (between Belirozonte & Novorizonte Hotels) or Vista Verde travel agency (at the side of the Capeverdian market near the town square in Santa Maria) or Sal Vista (opposite Porto Antigo 3).

You can also see turtle nests at our main hatchery on Ponta Preta (beside the beach entrance to the RIU hotel).  Rangers are on hand every day for two hours from 10am to give information about the turtles and this is also your opportunity to adopt a baby turtle and book your turtle watching tour.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Conservation Workshop/Atelier de Conservação

We are delighted to welcome participants from Fogo, Santo Antão, São Nicolau, São Vicente & Santiago to our first conservation workshop.  All of these islands have turtle conservation programmes, many of them started by small communities and some run by the Câmara Municipais (City Halls).  The workshop aims to give the participants as much hands on practical experience as possible, particularly with learning how and why to tag turtles, relocation of endangered nests as well as an overview of tourism, outreach activities and fundraising.  We also hope to create a network of Capeverdian conservations and a forum to promote more active participation and the exchange of ideas.

SOS Tartarugas is committed to building the skills needed to conserve turtles within communities in a way that benefits Capeverdians and we commit 35% of our budget to supporting islands without significant tourism revenue.   We will be making follow up visits to the delegates projects as well as provided them with equipment such as head-torches and GPS.

This workshop has been funded through a grant from the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, for which we are very grateful.