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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Friday, July 29, 2011

Turtle Odyssey Exhibition Santa Maria & Espargos

To celebrate World Day for Nature Conservation SOS Tartarugas is delighted to present the exhibition "Turtle Odyssey".

These beautifully shot photographs depict the story of the turtles struggle for survival in Cabo Verde.

The display will be at the Cultural Centre in Santa Maria until the 5th August and then in the Library in Espargos from the 16th to the 22nd August.

Thanks to our colleagues at Natura 2000 for the loan of the panels.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Using great art for social change

Came across this great project which features some beautiful murals brightening towns in Cabo Verde. 

Joel in Cape Verde

and connected to that a project to reduce rubbish

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Would you believe it? Another early hatching nest!

Another nest hatched on Costa Fragata on Monday night - taking us by surprise since we don't usually have baby turtles until the middle of August.  If the nest incubated for the usual time this means the turtle nested in late May!  A nest already hatched in June in the same area so it is always possible that it was the same early-bird turtle that laid both nests!

The indent is where the nest is
The nest hatched beautifully with every turtle emerging, but tragically EVERY hatchling came straight out of the nest and headed inland towards the lights  - the entire nest was lost except for one that the Rangers managed to find exhausted and dehydrated at the back of the beach.

Sadly all the tracks go the wrong way
Even on the east coast, an area with no tourism development, the light pollution can be very bad.  This nest was in a zone that is affected by large bright white, very tall security lights on the construction site of Dunas (The Resort Group).

So close to the sea but so distracted by lights

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Workshops for Kids

Our programme for kids during the school holidays is about to start.  Working with two other children's associations, Noz Kasa (in Santa Maria) and Châ Mateus (Espargos), the programme encompasses fun & educational activities related to the environment and turtles.

Both our partner associations help some of the island's poorest kids.

Newspaper article "SOS Tartarugas Summer Workshops"

Any donations of arts & crafts materials are most welcome.

Small scale fisheries have big impact on turtles

A report from the University of Exeter shows that it is not only large-scale commercial fisheries that are responsible for killing turtles, smaller fishing boats also have an impact.

The study, based on Peru's fishing industry suggests that not only are thousands of turtles killed, but that they have come from nesting beaches all over the world including Australia, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Galapagos.

Senior author, Brendan Godley says
"We have known for a long time that, along with sharks, marine mammals and seabirds, marine turtles often become bycatch as a result large-scale fishing. It is only recently that we have begun to realise that small-scale fisheries may also have a significant impact on marine life. However, we were very surprised when our study revealed just how large an impact small-scale fisheries have on sea turtles."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Five years left for turtles on Sal?

A little bit of controversy has been created with an article in A Semana today which states that turtles could disappear from Sal in five years time.

There are a number of inaccuracies in the article, such as the fact that hunting has increased and that there have already been turtles killed this summer - neither of these comments are true and we will be asking A Semana to correct them.  In addition, the figures quoted at the end reflect what is probably a natural fluctuation in nesting on Sal.

However, it is true to state that extinction could be possible in this time frame, since Sal has a relatively small population of turtles (compared to Boa Vista for example) and they are being killed at the rate of 40-50 a year, even with increased protection. 

In previous years the mortality rate could have been a lot higher and since turtles only nest every 2-3 or 4 years, we could now start to see the effects of this large-scale hunting.

Add to this the fact that almost the entire south and west coast of Sal has become unsuitable for turtles to nest due to construction and bright lights.  Nesting on the west coast of Ponta Preta and Algodoeiro declined by 18% in 2010 in the areas of the new resorts (Tortuga, Dunas and Paradise Beach) and 2011 is expected to be far worse.

It's not hard to see that extinction is a very real possibility. 

Read the A Semana article

Monday, July 11, 2011

Speculation about the season so far...

Those who read our blog or Facebook page regularly will know that we have been experiencing an unusually low number of nests & tracks this year.

The recording of tracks on Sal is only now beginning to be more regular and the total number of nests laid at the start of July would be low even for the start of June!

Our colleagues on other islands are experiencing the same low numbers. 

In Boa Vista, Natura 2000, who have been collecting data on loggerhead nesting for 13 years have told us that they have not seen this kind of low activity in all the time they have been here.

We all hope it is only a delay in the start of the season, perhaps due to the cold water around Cabo Verde right now (colder than usual) or maybe even a cold spring in the feeding grounds where the loggerheads spend their time before they come here to nest.

Fingers crossed that that is all it is and not some major disaster that has disrupted nesting in this important area.
Paulo, Holley & Betânia are delighted to find a nest on Serra Negra

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Spreading the word throughout Santiago

Peace Corps Volunteer Jon Berg describes his experience working with SOS Tartarugas to organise an ambitious series of workshops and events in Santiago island during the summer.

The campaign called 'Nha Terra' (My Land) is designed to inform authorities about the laws relating to turtle protection and to sensitise the people to the need to save this important part of Cabo Verde's heritage.

Read about his experiences here.

2011 Community Workshop a great success

The annual workshop held on Sal to help to develop employment and skills in conservation activities on other islands finished on Thursday after an intensive four days.

The participants from Santiago, Maio, São Nicolau, São Vicente, Fogo, Santo Antão & Sal learned technical skills as well as how to structure a project in a way that could attract money to benefit their communities.

One of the participants from Santo Antão was so dedicated that he was immediately hired after being unemployed since leaving the army.

The gruelling four days included late night patrols and early morning patrols as well as theoretical sessions where delegates had a lively exchange of ideas.
The team visit the hatchery

Some had experience in turtle conservation and other environmental activities which involve youth and community development and were able to pass on their success stories.  SOS Tartarugas hopes that all go home with ideas to inspire more activities.

Learning about fundraising

SOS Tartarugas will follow up this workshop with visits to each island later in the summer.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Baby turtles born two months ahead of schedule!

To our great surprise SOS Tartarugas Rangers found hatchling tracks on Costa Fragata on Sal on the 30th June 2011.

Hardly believing their eyes, they uncovered the nest and found several hatchlings still inside.

In general, the nesting season starts in mid-June and the first hatchlings are born in the middle of August.  For this nest to have hatched the turtle must have nested in late April or early May - two months earlier than expected!  Nobody knows why this has happened but you could speculate that it could be due to the individual turtle or even to climate change.

There were 72 hatched eggs inside the nest and of those that were born many went in the wrong direction possibly due to the light of the houses from Santa Maria which disorientates turtles.

After a long search the dedicated Rangers found five more baby turtles which were lost in the dunes and these were then released into the sea.

Filhotes de tartarugas nascem 2 meses antes do tempo!
Turtles born 2 months earlier than expected!
June 29, inesperadamente, o primeiro ninho de Tartarugas Caretta caretta na praia de Costa Fragata, na Ilha do Sal.
As tartarugas nasceram de um ninho que não tinha sido identificado. De uma forma geral, a temporada de desova ocorre em meados do mês de Junho e os primeiros filhotes nascem a meio do mês de Agosto, já esta tartaruga subiu para desovar no início do mês de Maio, dois meses antes do esperado! Não sabemos a razão pela qual isto aconteceu mas poderá ter a ver com alteração de comportamento desta tartaruga em particular ou com alguma alteração no clima, no entanto não temos dados concretos que confirmem estas suspeitas.
O ninho foi detectado por Rangers da SOS Tartarugas enquanto faziam a patrulha matinal à procura de rastos de tartarugas adultas, ficando surpresos quando encontraram rastos de tartarugas bebes. Foram contabilizados 72 ovos eclodidos, 59 ovos não eclodidos e 5 nati-mortos, o que se traduz numa taxa de sucesso de 52,94%.
Os filhotes emergiram durante a noite, quando os rangers chegaram, por volta das 6 horas da manhã, detectaram inúmeros rastos, sendo que alguns iam na direcção contrária ao mar. Mais uma vez a iluminação das residências de Santa Maria provocou a desorientação dos filhotes. Após uma busca foram encontrados 5 filhotes, que andavam perdidos nas dunas, e foram libertados no mar.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

SOS Rangers volunteer at dog clinic

As if they didn't have enough to do, our brilliant volunteers have been spending their time off helping at the animal clinic in Santa Maria organised by SOS Cachorros & Gatos

The clinic moves to Espargos later today. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New conservation project in Santo Antão

Congratulations to Silvana Roque and her team at Projecto Vito who have started a turtle conservation project in Porto Novo, the main town on the island of Santo Antão.

Santo Antão is a mountainous, rural island, the most northerly in the archipelago.  It has seen very little development and has no airport but it is known for incredible hiking and bird life.

Projecto Vito has been active in Fogo for a couple of years and their first activity in Porto Novo was a training session.
Supported by the City Hall and the Port & Maritime Delegation, the training was attended by 60 people including youth, teachers, scouts & marine police.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Community Workshop started today

As part of our commitment to developing conservation activities in communities throughout Cabo Verde, the annual SOS Tartarugas Atelier (workshop) started today in Sal.

The purpose of the workshop is not only to teach technical skills but to inspire communities with ideas on fundraising, outreach and educational activities.
With the kind cooperation of the Centro Cultural in Santa Maria, the workshop began with sessions on sea turtle biology and the importance of collecting data. 

Delegates work on designing data collection forms
Almost all the islands are represented with the delegates from Fogo, Santiago, Maio, São Vicente, Santo Antão, São Nicolau and of course, Sal.

Tonight the participants will camp at Serra Negra and hopefully see a nesting turtle.

SOS meets the President of Timor

SOS were invited to a meeting by the President of Timor during his visit to Cabo Verde.  Sr Jose Ramos-Horta funds turtle conservation in his own country and was eager to exchange ideas that may help their fledgling project.

The meeting was attended by Jacquie Cozens, Neal Clayton and Joana Gouveia and the topics ranged from how to raise money to the use of hatcheries.

Timor is situated north of Australia and was a colony of Portugal until 1975 when it was annexed by Indonesia.  Following a brief rule by the UN, the country became fully independent in 2002.

The seas around Timor are extremely rich and diverse in corals and marine life and two species of turtles nest there (hawksbill & olive ridley).  Thankfully the president told us that there is not a strong tradition of hunting and eating turtle and the populations are stable.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tarrafal, São Nicolau launch turtle protection campaign

The Câmara Municipal (City Hall) Tarrafal, São Nicolau launch this year's turtle protection campaign today reports A Semana.  The City Hall have had great success over the last few years and have succeeded in wiping out hunting of nesting turtles on these very important beaches.  A Semana article.