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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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nest hatches in 70 days

Only two nests left now, both on Costa Fragata (east coast of Sal), one in the area we call Quarry and the other beyond the kite surfing area known as Kite Beach. This nest hatched on the 21st December and the incubation period was 70 days - that's 17 days longer than the average during the season. Happy to say that it didn't unduly affect the success rate which was 91% - 50 out of 55 baby turtles hatched and emerged from the nest.

The photo shows the 'frags' (shell fragments that are left after hatchlings emerge) that we count in order to calculate how many eggs hatched successfully.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How it was before

This article is really interesting, it was written in 2005 and talks about how easy it was for turtles to be killed on Sal.

"Beaches such as Parda, Serra Negra, Puf, Algodoeiro and Ponta Preta become veritable turtle shell dumps between July and September every year, when the species reproduces. Many wait anxiously for this moment, when the sea turtles that inhabit the waters of Cape Verde are at their most vulnerable."

That's exactly how it was when we arrived here, but through the dedication of the Rangers with assistance from the military and the Camara Municipal do Sal you will now rarely see the remains of turtles on the beaches.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An oldie but a goodie...

Just came across this article in one of our local papers A Semana. It was the day the President of Sal released the first turtles born in our new hatchery on Praia Antonio de Sousa. A real occasion for the team and the community.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last couple of nests on the beach

Excavated a nest on Costa Fragata yesterday (very successful 75/90 hatched) but failed to find a nest that we knew had hatched a couple of nights ago. The tracks all led to one spot, but despite nine of us digging the whole area, we could not find the egg chamber! Unfortunately the vast majority of the hatchlings went towards the lights of Santa Maria, in particular the residential zone of Antonio de Sousa and many also followed the quad tracks running parallel to the beach. Costa Fragata is a tricky spot for hatchlings - predators, human disturbance and huge surf to swim through!

Only three nests left on the beach now. We anticipate the final one will hatch on December 29th.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Josh Angulo's lights

The wind is back and the beach near the Sab Sab (Surf Beach/Leme Bedje/Praia Antonio de Sousa) is buzzing with activity. This tiny little beach had 26 nests on it this year, making it an extremely important nesting site and one of the few remaining places on the south of the island that can still be used by turtles. Light pollution is the biggest problem and the biggest light was the floodlight at Josh Angulo's surf shack. Some of you may remember the disagreement we had with Josh over this and to our great disappointment the light was left on all summer, causing the death of many endangered loggerhead hatchlings.

Last night Neal and I went for dinner at Papaya's and looking out towards the beach - guess what? Pitch black on Surf Beach. No floodlight at all. Is that what you would call ironic? Or is there another word you might use?

Friday, December 11, 2009

In situs with Peter & Linda

Went off up to Serra Negra and Mont Leao with Peter & Linda and Linda's mum and dad, Betty & John yesterday (and Neal of course!)

We had one nest to find in Serra Negra which we did. It was a trans-situ (moved by us from one part of the beach to another) and unfortunately, another example of poor hatching success of trans-situ nests. At the moment we don't understand the reason for this, but we have plenty of theories. Unfortunately the majority of the eggs in this nest did not develop at all and only around 20% of the eggs hatched and went to the sea. We hope to do a study next year to help to understand possible reasons for this problem which occurs on all of our beaches.

Better news in Mont Leao at least, where we had 5 nests to find and we found them all. Three nests did very well but the last two had roots growing through the eggs, very strange to see turtle eggs all covered in hairy roots! One of the nests had three hatchlings still inside so we were able to rescue them and we found one unlucky hatchling who had emerged from the nest only to get stuck in a small bush nearby. His luck changed that day and if we hadn't come along he would probably have dehydrated and died by today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Last nest hatches!

Not quite the final nest of the season - that nest, on Kite Beach, won't hatch until the 19th December or later.

The last nest in the hatchery, however, hatched on the night of the 5th December and was excavated the following day. It was a really small nest - only 33 eggs - but the hatching success was good - 23 out of 33.

Now the hatchery looks very strange - as if we are back to the beginning of the season, waiting for the first turtle!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The last nest in the hatchery

We were all holding our breath waiting for the last nest in the hatchery. All the nests hatched faster this year (hotter temperatures probably) but Nest 149 was taking longer than most. We hoped it would start on the night of the 3rd, Joe's last night, but nothing doing, only a few heads seen 20cm down. Nothing all day on the 4th either, but then when Stephen and Lauren went to the hatchery at 4pm, there were little heads poking out of the sand. More than two hours of sitting and staring at them (watched kettle and all that...) did not convince the little turtles to leave their nice warm home. As I write this, I am assuming that they made an appearance some time in the night and today will be the final hatchery excavation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Unique Christmas Gift

It’s not too late to send your friends and family a unique gift from Sal.

Hatchlings will continue to be born during December so you can still adopt a turtle baby as a Christmas gift.

For a minimum donation of €10 the recipient receives a Christmas Certificate of Adoption as well as photos of their hatchling being released into the s

We also have tshirts (adults/kids €15/€10), hoodies (€30), caps (€15) and environmentally friendly cotton bags (€10). All profits go directly towards protecting turtles in Cape Verde. For more information email

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Still hatching

You can still see hatchlings being born at the hatchery on the beach outside the RIU hotel on Sal. Things are slowing down a little bit, but there are always Rangers on duty between 4pm and 6pm each day to answer your questions. There are also public releases in the evening where you can see your adopting baby turtle going into the sea.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Are you sure you are finished?

We thought it was all over - but no, the turtles had other ideas. We had two more nests on Costa Fragata this week. We are wondering how these nests will fare, since the temperature will drop considerably. Last year late nests in the hatchery took more than 70 days to develop (compared to the more usual 51-53 in the summer) but they still did ok. Time will tell ....

Meanwhile there are still lots of nests keeping us busy on the beach and in the hatchery.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Emails like this make it really worthwhile!

Dear Neal,
Thank you so much for sending us news and fantastic photos of baby Tajo the Turtle. My Mum and Dad have not stopped raving about the amazing work you guys do and how privileged they felt to experience and be part of it whilst they were out there. It is without a doubt the best holiday present we have ever had and hope to come out and visit you soon to see for ourselves and give you our support.
Thanks again it has made our day ;-)
Tara and John aka adoptive parents of Tajo the Turtle xx

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Final tracks

About a week has gone by since we saw the last adult tracks. There was a nest on Ponta Jelonga (Costa Fragata) - unfortunately by the time the Rangers arrived a dog had already dug it up - the eggs were all broken and scattered over the beach. What a sad fate for our final nest of the 2009 season.

On the plus side, we have been in the peak of the hatching season, often with over a hundred hatchlings being born in the hatchery each night. The beaches are full of miniature turtle tracks from the hatchlings dashing from the nest to the sea (hopefully in the right direction).

We expect the last nest in the hatchery to hatch around the 10th December, so we will be finishing up quite a lot earlier than last year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy volunteers!

A message from some brilliant volunteers who spent a couple of weeks with us in August. Aaahh, the feeling's mutual!

"Des, Jack and I wish to say a huge 'thank you' to yourself, Neil and all my almost-housemates. We were made to feel incredibly welcome and your willingness to share your knowledge and experience meant that we really felt a part of the team. We feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to be part of the project and experience first hand the valuable work you do. The levels of dedication are truly inspiring.

We are certainly far better informed than we were three weeks ago. It would be great to find some way of putting our experience to good use in future and it goes without saying that if there is ever anything we can do to help, all you need to do is ask."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our dog Rasher

You may have heard that our beautiful dog, Rasher was poisoned and died in agony next to the hatchery on the 8th October. Many of you knew him and would have seen him when you visited us. We are campaigning to stop this disgusting and cruel practice. Join our fight at

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who is respsonsible for turtles in Sal?

In situ nest number 342 hatched last night on Praia Antonio Sousa. Unfortunately the majority did not make it to the sea. It wasn't a big surprise to find that so many went to the big floodlight in front of Josh Angulo's surf shack.

You can see in the photos tracks leading directly there and then actually coming inside the shack where the windsurf sails are kept. The nest they came from is way off in the distance at the other end of the beach.

We kept some nests on this beach for two reasons - because it is better for the nests and so that everybody could enjoy having and seeing turtles on public beaches. Unfortunately it's something we probably won't be repeating next year.

So, in answer to the question "Who is responsible for turtles in Sal?" the answer is that ALL of us are and those with beachfront properties have extra responsibility.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Demi - a turtle that goes her own way

On the 25th September Demi nested outside the Paradise Beach construction site (witnessed by Peter, Linda and Stephen). Demi is a very special turtle and clearly likes to do things a little differently. Back in July she was abandoned by tour guide who makes his money out of turtle tours - she was about to be killed by hunters. Luckily our team were also on the beach and she was saved. Not easily put off she nested once more in August and again in September in almost the same spot. Her final nest, exactly 15 days later was one that made us all scratch our heads - she dug two egg chambers, one with each flipper and then deposited her eggs in the middle so some rolled down into each nest!
Not exactly ideal, so Stephen helped her out and built a third chamber so the eggs could incubate together!

(Thanks for the photos, Linda)

Monday, October 5, 2009

We like getting feedback like this!

Hi Heidi
Thank you so much for the photos, really awesome and helped us to appreciate the size of her. We had a wonderful holiday but the turtles made it for us. Good luck with your project and we would really appreciate any future photographs.
Ian and Barbara Wilson

Duo the two headed turtle

The day before yesterday this little turtle was born in our hatchery. Named 'Duo' the hatchling has two heads that both work although the left side is dominant. Two headedness does occasionally happen in all species and is usually the result of incomplete separation of twins. Unfortunately Duo will probably not survive in the wild as he/she is not able to swim very well.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is Shellie

Shellie was tagged by Stephen and Faye on 25th July 2009 (Tag numbers YYY726 & YYY727) on Costa Fragata where she nested (not in a very good place so the nest was moved trans situ). She was seen three more times in the same area where she nested twice. Then she was brutally killed at Serra Negra on the 28th September. She was quite small so it was probably her first or second nesting season meaning her potential for increasing the turtle population is now lost. It is becoming clear that relatively small size is an indication that not many of Cabo Verde's nesting turtles make it past a third season. Shellie's final nest on Costa Fragata will be hatching soon - we will do our best at least to make sure her hatchlings make it into the sea.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The killing continues

Unfortunately all this rain has impacted the turtles as well. For various reasons our friends in the military have not been on the beaches for around ten days and it seems that the hunters are well aware of this. This week we have lost one turtle in Serra Negra and one the night before last on Costa Fragata, a stone's throw from Santa Maria. On Saturday night when João was with a group of guests out for turtle walk near Paradise Beach he found tell tale drag mark which told him there was a turtle about to be killed. Sure enough, the hunters were there with the turtle and claimed that it was their turtle and they were entitled to kill it and João as well if he interfered. Standing his ground João (and his group who bravely stayed as well) the turtle was saved and returned to the sea. She was named Suerte (Luck) and happily she nested two nights later in the same area. Not so lucky for the other two. However much we patrol we cannot be everywhere at once and when a turtle is killed there is a great sense of loss in our group and also a feeling of responsibility.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rain in Sal

Rain is destroying the beaches and the town at the moment. The entire beach profile has changed and we suspect that many nests will have been washed into the sea. A particular area of concern is Serra Negra where the beach is narrow and a lot of rain will flow directly from the mountain, causing deep gullies and rifts. Because of the risk of lightning strikes, for the first time, our Rangers were unable to patrol last night but we did manage to get to the hatcheries and find some crazy baby turtles who chose the stormy night to make an appearance!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hatchlings will be born today

We have excavations at both hatcheries today which means you will probably see newly born turtle babies. 4.3opm at Riu Hatchery and 5pm at Surf Beach Hatchery.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Latest figures

It's still turning out to be a bumper year here in Sal. As of the 5th September we have 2,908 tracks (compared to a total of 1,238 in 2008), 689 nests (compared to 347 for all of 2008) and we have tagged 260 turtles (compared to 101 last year). Unfortunately, we still have turtles being killed. On protected beaches 1% of turtle emergences end in death compared to a terrible 15% on the northern beaches which we are unable to patrol. At least the mortality rate for the protected beaches is in decline (it was 1.71% last year) but it is still too much.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stimulating conservation in Maio

One of our experienced Rangers, Joao Gouveia was in Ilha do Maio recently. It was his second visit to the island, the first was made to determine what kind of support was needed. On this three week long trip the objective was to try to stimulate a more cohesive programme of turtle protection that encompasses patrols, data collection and outreach activity.

Maio probably has the second largest population of nesting loggerhead turtles in Cabo Verde and while there are many willing hands, they have very limited resources and training.

Joao reported that his visit was very productive, "from the very start I felt that people really wanted our help and were glad that we were there. Sometimes we did not have the means to do a complete job, but we did manage a four day census of all the beaches, many of which are extremely remote." We now also have a better understanding of the major nesting areas with GPS positions, lengths and nesting suitability factors.

Joao, with the assistance of the Camara Municipal Maio brought together groups of people to participate in camping and patrolling. Socialising and working seriously with the turtles was a very positive experience for everyone. Several workshops were attended by marine biology students, representatives of other NGOs and local community members.

Although it was a very successful trip, there is still a great deal to do. In particular the guards who patrol beaches to deter hunters need more training and more equipment. We hope to be able to enhance this work in 2010 by training and employing a 'local expert' in Maio who will be able to provide support and training.

Joao was representing the newly formed Capeverdian Sea Turtle Network and his trip was funded by the US Fish & WIldlife Marine Turtle Conservation Fund.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First hatchlings born

It started slowly, with just one lone hatchling emerging from Nest 2 on the 21st August, 59 days after the nest was laid on Black Sand Beach (at the northern end of Algodoeiro on the west coast). This was quickly followed by Nest 1 and then oddly, Nest 50. In the end, Nest 1 produced 58 hatchlings and Nest 2, 79. Nest 2 was exceptional as we had 100% success - 79 hatchlings from 79 eggs! A rare thing in both hatchery and nests left on the beach. Nest 50 is interesting as well as the eggs were recovered from a nest on the Riu dune that had been uncovered by the very high tide. No one had any idea about the hatch date as we did not know exactly when the nest was laid. So far we have had 34 hatchlings from that nest.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Essential equipment

The simplest things are hard to get here. All the islands need more equipment to help their turtle conservation projects. If you are coming to Cabo Verde or can send us anything, here are the things we need :
Head torches with red lamp only £ 12.69 (€14) (
1 million candlewatt rechargeable torches £ 10.89 (€12) (
Tailor's tape measures (metric measurements marked in black)
Unlocked mobile phones
Two man and four man tents
Oh and a new quad bike. Thanks!

Community efforts in Sao Nicolau

It was a pleasure to be invited to Sao Nicolau to participate in two training camps to give information on how tag turtles and collect data. The activities were arranged by INDP (Fisheries institute) via the two Camara Municipals. INDP have been working in Sao Nicolau for several years with the objective of creating turtle conservation programmes that are in the hands of the community. This approach is very different from our project in Sal where, for several reasons, we have found it much harder to engage the communities. In the area around Tarrafal the Camara Municipal pays guards to stay at the beach to deter hunting and monitor nests and on the eastern side, the other CM is starting to mobilise volunteers.
The programme really works, with hunting now a very limited problem, but unfortunately, the big problem is the destruction of beaches and loss of habitat. Many of the beaches have been completely stripped of sand for construction, which means the turtles are concentrated in small and often unsuitable beaches. We stayed at two beaches, Porto do Lapa in the east and Baixo Rocha in the west and it was fantastic to meet so many people who are motivated to save turtles in their island. Beach access is much more difficult than on Sal and guards have to hike or go by boat to get to work. All that is needed now is a bit of training and some equipment and support. Our trip was on behalf of the newly formed Capeverdian Sea Turtle Network, with a grant from US Fish & Wildlife Service with logistical support by the Camara Municipals from Tarrafal and Ribeira Brava.

Friday, August 7, 2009

How it all began...

We arrived on Sal in mid-June in 2007, Neal had a job with Manta Diving and Jacquie had a vague idea about making a film to do with turtles. Walking on the beaches it soon became clear that there was a big problem since the only turtles we saw were dead turtles. In the meantime, Juan Blanco, the manager of ScubaCaribe had started a hatchery outside the dive centre (with the help of Natura 2000) in an effort to try to save some of the nests. Once Juan and Jacquie met things started to move swiftly, the Camara Municipal do Sal had a protection programme with soldiers running already but were keen to get help and the environmental technician quickly joined the group. Our progress would have been a lot slower had it not been for a series of coincidences. Matthias Schmelz, a visitor to the island became incensed when he saw a restaurant with many turtles packed into a concrete tank for public display - so incensed that he took matters into his own hands and put the turtles in the sea. Although it hardly seems feasible, he was arrested! Matthias was working with Patricia, who is married to Nuno who is the owner of Manta Diving, so in this way we also got to hear about the incident. Matthias and Jacquie met and Matthias decided that he would support our project with a generous grant spread out over almost two years. This committment gave us the confidence to move forward and there is no doubt that without it things would have moved much more slowly and we could not have achieved the results we did in 2008. Matthias's company, Rainbow manufactures revolutionary vacuum cleaners

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sal girls

Some of the turtles who entrusted their eggs to the SOS Rangers on Sal this year - there are many more who were too quick to get their jewellery and names. One eyed Willy - only your mother (and Joe) could love you.

Calheta Funda Three - Free at last

Congratulations to all involved from the Camara Municipal do Sal and the Maritime Police on the liberation of three loggerhead yearlings who have been kept in captivity and displayed in Calheta Funda. You can see how happy the police delegate is! The turtles were in good shape so three of the rangers carried them beyond the surf zone to make sure they got well away from the shore. The little turtles are finally back where they belong! More photos

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1,000 and rising

In only 7 weeks we have already counted more thank 1,000 turtle tracks. Astonishing when you consider that in the whole of last season (4 months) we only had 1,200! As 2008 was our first season, it is impossible to know whether that was a low year and this is normal or that was a normal year and this is an unusual year.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ana makes a lucky escape!

Following much confusion this morning, we took possession of an 80cm female loggerhead. Earlier we believed that we were being handed three yearlings that are being held captive in Calheta Funda (west coast of Sal). This lucky turtle had been captured by a hunter in Feijoal, one of the northern beaches, some time last night. She had been kept upside in his house, presumably, until he was ready to kill and eat her. By good fortune someone called the police who reacted immediately and recovered the turtle at the same time as arresting the man involved. Euclides Gonçalves from the Camara Municipal do Sal tagged her before she was released on Praia Antonio de Sousa in Santa Maria. She was named Ana after Euclides's wife.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Waves of Art

Waves of Art are making a donation to SOS Tartarugas from all sales of this beautiful pendant. Rob and Tammy who joined us on patrol in 2008 where they were struck by the plight of the loggerheads here.

CVSTN join forces with INDP in Sao Nicolau

INDP (Institute for the development of fisheries) and CVSTN (Capeverdian Sea Turtle Network) start joint activities this week in an effort to diminish the slaughter of turtles on the island of Sao Nicolau.  Limited data exists for this island, but CVSTN and INDP together with the local government authorities hope to develop and train guards who will not only protect turtles but will collect data and tag them as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Top volunteer....

Hi Jacquie,
Had a really fantastic time, thanks so much for the luxury accomodation! I found the turtles so impressive and looking at the whys and whereabouts of the tracks certainly brought out the detective in me! I got to tag two of them, one I named after my friend who is actually obsessed with tortoises. She feels very honoured to have a fellow 'Katharina' swimming around in Cabo Verde!
(Katie Quinn - new turtle convert)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Victory for captive turtles in Cabo Verde

In the first case of its kind today, the owner of Fontona received a fine of €300 for persistently breaking the law by keeping marine turtles and charging tourists to witness their slow death.
SOS had previously compensated him €50 a month for loss of income on the understanding that he never kept turtles again. If he doesn't pay the fine he will go to jail for 66 days.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Six men arrested for possessing turtle meat

Following an anonymous tip-off we were able to track down some men selling turtle meat and eggs door to door in Santa Maria. The police responded very quickly and were able to apprehend the men. Although they did not have the meat with them, they quickly confessed that they had killed three turtles in the last two days in Serra Negra. To get to Serra Negra requires 4WD and we rely on our partners at the Camara Municipal & WWF to assist with this. So far we have not been able to patrol this beach at night and have been powerless to prevent the slaughter. Neal accompanied the policemen to a house near Serra Negra where there was turtle meat and eggs cooking. The man who had killed the turtle was forced to recover the carapaces as evidence. All six men involved are in custody and will go to a hearing on the 10 July.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hunters out in force

The last week has been a running battle with hunters. Our usual military support has been missing due to money not being released from the DGA (Dept of Environment) and the Camara Municipal. Even though we wanted to give what money we could, this was not accepted. Without this extra support the beaches are too long for us to control alone. So far ten turtles have been taken to our knowledge and it is sometimes only luck that helps us to be in the right place at the right time. This turtle was only moments from death when we found a track, running towards the hunters we were in time to scare them away. Unfortunately the police in Santa Maria who are doing all they can to help us are so under-resourced that they do not have transport to assist us. All the Rangers are working extra patrols until we get some support and many people have stepped forward to volunteer.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Debra is free again!

After a good night's sleep Debra the turtle was ready for release. We barely had time to take photos and she was off. Neal was in the water but only managed to catch a fleeting glimpse as she raced past him, seemingly fully recovered and heading back round to Costa Fragata where we hope to see her laying a nest very soon. Great team effort everyone.

Two turtles saved from drowning in net

Reports from Francesco of Surf Activity the house where the rangers live ( about a turtle in difficulty in the sea on Costa Fragata sent the SOS team running. After battling strong currents and huge surf, two turtles were found completely encased in a fishing net and struggling to move. The turtles, one male and one female, were eventually brought back to shore and cut free. The male still had strength and was released after being tagged but the smaller female was exhausted. It was decided to rest her overnight at Hatchery 2 (near the Sab Sab Hotel) where Josh Angulo ( kindly allows us to use his kiddies swimming pool for this kind of emergency. Debra, named after Francesco's wife, should be strong enough to be released later today.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Milagre - the miracle turtle

We have a small loggerhead in our care at the moment. It is approximately 8 months old, born in the 2008 season and held captive in a 'tourist attraction' in Fontona. As it was kept in sweet water and fed an inappropriate diet, it is not in very good shape. It is unable to dive, covered in algae, it is also unwilling to eat unless hand fed. We are going to monitor it for a while until we can see it will take live food by itself and then release it offshore.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

First Crazy Turtle of the Year

This female loggerhead was found wandering around 500m from the sea yesterday. We were conducting our first weekly survey where we visit every tiny bit of beach on the island to count tracks and nests. For some reason she had become confused after laying her nest and wandered inland. For once we can't say it was because of lights because the area around Mont Leão is quite dark. It was really lucky for her that we chose to do the survey that day as we wouldn't usually go to this bit of beach. Neal, Euclides, Andy & Antonio eventually got her back into the sea and while they were tagging her several jeeps full of happy tourists arrived and were able to watch her swim off. The first save of the season!