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, October 31, 2010

Turtles saved by Rangers

Now the season is coming to an end we are able to look back over this year’s data and see what we have achieved.  This year's tagging and recapture data shows we tagged 111 turtles.  We have seen two turtles that were tagged by SOS in 2008 meaning that the work we conducted in the first year of the project is already allowing the safe return of turtles for another year.
This year we have also recorded five turtles from projects on other islands, something we always find particularly exciting and interesting as turtles tend to nest on the same or similar beaches year after year.  However we are finding that here in Cape Verde turtles do wander and visit other islands.  Peach is a fantastic example of this, 17 days after she was tagged on Sal, she had made her way to Boa Vista where she was nested on Boa Esperança beach.
Out of all the turtles tagged this season 38% have been seen again and 36.9% have been seen laying two or more nests.
Every year there’s always one turtle who makes herself known more than the others, this year it was Spaghetti who was seen six times and laid three nests.
Horizonte and Squirt were the turtles Rangers saw nesting the most this year, both turtles laid four nests. Horizonte was tagged by members of a workshop held in July and every nest she laid was on exactly the same section of beach!  Squirt laid all her nests on Serra Negra, the busiest beach on Sal this year.  Squirt was also seen by a group of guests on one of our 'Ranger Experience' tour.
This year we saved nine turtles through direct intervention, all were found turned upside down by hunters waiting to be killed.   Seven of these turtles were saved in one exhausting week in August!   Many of them were seen returning more than once this season completely undeterred by their earlier experiences.
Chase was seen four times including the time she was saved.  She was seen nesting twice and her first nest was the day after she was saved. 
Upsey, Eurildo and Francesca were all saved on the same evening.  Both Upsey and Eurildo were seen nesting twice after.  Francesca was wise and made sure she wasn’t seen again!
Two nests laid by saved turtles have hatched and both were amazingly successful with 90% of the eggs developing into little turtles.
All in all, another remarkable season!  If you want to adopt and name one of our tagged turtles send an email to SOS Tartarugas

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A few more entries from our daily log...

During the season, the days vary so much, from full on, massive adrenalin patrols to peaceful, strolls on the beach and everything in between.  Here are a few examples of how our nights can be....

6/08/10, Costa Fragata 9pm-1am, Stef and Santi
The only thing on patrol tonight was an FCUing turtle spotted on Kite Beach, a few hundred metres after the shack. She wasn’t tagged. The rest of the patrol was non eventful, soldiers and poachers were totally absent.
08/07/10 Algodoeiro 3am-6am, Hattie and Sandra
I’d like to say that Sandra and I had a nice patrol full of turtles. Sadly this is not the case. At 3.35am we found something we didn’t want to find, a dead mama turtle. Her carapace, flippers, eggs and everything else the hunters decided they didn’t want were discarded around her, it really wasn’t a pleasant sight. We phoned the police but sadly they were unable to attend. We took some photos, and recorded the data measuring her carapace and took a GPS the location. Following this we carried on patrolling the beach recording another 5 activities and trans-locating one nest of 84 eggs into spot ten in the main hatchery.
10/07/10 Costa Fragata 9-1am, Stef, Janice and Fab
OMG call it an eventful night! So everything seemed quiet along the beach, strolled half way down Quarry and stop to check out a track that looked pretty fresh… I crawled up to the first pit noticing there didn’t seem to be a down track however the up track ended just after the dune, so I called Janice and Fab, with our detective hats on we started investigating…. TCSI (turtle crime scene investigation). After a while I decided to follow what seemed to be in the pitch darkness a drag mark. We walked down right into the back of the dunes when Fab noticed something moving, turned out to be the poor mama upside down! We were worried it may have been harmed but after turning our lights on we worked out she was still alive and completely fine. We phoned the emergency phone and waited for Neal to come and help, guarding the mama turtle. When Neal arrived she was tagged measured and flipped the right way and returned safely back to sea. The turtle named Lucky Kite had been successfully saved! We continued patrolling and later we saw two men where lucky Kite had been, we assumed they had come back for her, IN YOUR FACE POACHERS! Later that night on PJ we saw a mama turtle nesting. We are all very tired now and its time for the boys to take over, good night Lucky Kite it was nice to meet you!
27/07/10 Costa Fragata 9-1 Janice, James and Steve
We saw no turtles and no new tracks only tracks recorded by the tour earlier. We did see 6 men and a dog walking up the beach and behind the dunes where they sat down. As we left the beach 3 men and a dog left too. We informed the second patrol so they were able to keep and eye out. Yawn.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Join the SOS Tartarugas team in 2011

We need dedicated, committed, hard-working people to join our team in 2011.

By working with us you can make a real difference to saving nesting loggerhead turtles from becoming extinct in Cabo Verde.

We have many opportunities, paid and unpaid, ranging from the entire season to just a few days.

For more information please go to

Turtle Conservation Jobs with SOS Tartarugas

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This year's SOS girlies

40 Cents, Alberta, Amazing Grace, Anna Mary Ann, Arianna, Atkins, Aurora Roja, Beckey, Bee, Beurocracy, Big Bertha, Burger, Camilla, Chase, Claudia, Dental De Tubarão (Shark Bite), Despedida, Dortora, Double Date, Duna, Eleanor, Eneda, Ermione, Eurildo, Extreme Madura, Flappin About, Flora, Francesca, Gamila, Gg, Gillie, Ginger, Giulietta, Goldilocks, Hilda May, Horizonte, Isabel, Itsma, Janice, Kiss, Kobe, Lady Sophie, Ladyneia, Lainey- Lou, Lola, Lory Meyers, Lovely, Lucia, Lucky Kite, Magdrugada, Marimar, Mascha, Melody, Misfire, Momo, Mutti, Nasas, Natalina, Pandora, Peach, Penny, Perfect Mary, Perranporth, Picaninho, Pitter, Pliedes, Poldina, Portia, Praia, Princess Fiona, Priscila, Pumpkin, Queen Elizabeth Ii, Rainha (Queen), Raquel, Remora, Rippa, Rizza, Rush, Sally, Sammy, Saoirse, Sarah, Schidpad, Servanda, Sidka, Silviani, Snax, Snoop Dog, Sofia, Sookie, Spaghetti, Squirt, Squish, Sweety, Teresa, Tiburanera, Tilly, Trulla, Turtletastic, Upsey, Vega, Viola, Wendy, Winmarleigh, Yve

107 female loggerheads tagged by Rangers on Sal island this year but we still have around 20 un-named turtles.  

If you would like to adopt an adult turtle it costs €30 and you will receive lots of information about your turtle (how big she is, where she nested and how many times and how successful her nests were).  email to arrange your adoption. 

Why not adopt a turtle for a friend or relative - it makes a great gift for Christmas.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bitten by the turtle bug

Mary and Fred Norgrove wrote to us before their holiday at the RIU.  They had seen a nesting turtle in Boa Vista on their previous visit and were keen to experience the same on Sal.  Unfortunately the timing was a bit off and we had already stopped our turtle walks.

Plenty of hatchlings were being born though and Mary and Fred became regulars at the hatchery each afternoon.  Soon enough Mary had heard Neal make his presentation so many times that she had pretty much memorised it and they were soon answering other visitors questions and even giving Neal's presentation to fellow guests over the dinner table!

They were so enthusiastic that when there was no excavation at the main hatchery they took a taxi to our second hatchery on the eastern part of Santa Maria so they could excavate the nest themselves!

Mary and Fred are planning to come back next year and be volunteers and we are looking forward to seeing them then.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mariel's thesis - Incubation of turtles on Sal

Congratulations to Mariel Murazzi who has just finished her Masters thesis and graduated from University of Pisa.  Mariel was with SOS Tartarugas in the summer of 2009 and worked tremendously hard as a Ranger in addition to doing the extra work required to complete her study.   The results of the study are very interesting and will make a real contribution to the conservation work we do.

The full title of the study is "Incubation Temperature and Risk Assessment Associated with the Transfer of Eggs on the Island of Sal". 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Environmental Crime in Fogo

The total destruction of the beaches in Fogo through the removal of sand is well underway and authorised by the Camâra Municipal.  It's against the law but they have decided to ignore that small point.  Of course it's bad for the turtles but it is bad for the entire island ecology as well.  Even if you can't understand the language of the report shown on Cape Verdean television, anyone can see that a continous stream of trucks digging out the sand on the main beach outside São Filipe is going to have a catastrophic effect.  Greed and short-termism at its most visible.

RTC Report on Sand Extraction on Fogo

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cabo Verde Explorer - now Turtle Friendly!

Driving on beaches at any time of year is illegal but at this time of year it is critical for a number of reasons:
  • The heavy weight of vehicles compacts the sand and prevents turtles from nesting (as can be clearly seen on Praia Antonio de Sousa where there were NO nests this year compared to 27 last year)
  • Ruts in the sand cause hatchlings to walk parallel to the sea rather than go towards the sea as they are not big enough to see which direction they should go in
  • Driving over nests crushes the eggs and at this time of year also kills hatchlings that are waiting just below the surface for night to fall.  
Tyre tracks going directly over a nest (10 dead turtles found just underneath the sand)
Nests on the beach will continue to hatch until the end of December.

So when we saw deep tyre marks almost the entire length of Serra Negra we were very worried.  The distinctive new excursion 'Cabo Verde Explorer' was driving guests over and very close to numerous nests (Serra Negra is the highest density nesting beach on Sal).

Following a meeting with the organisers we are delighted that the excursion has now been changed to a peaceful walk on Serra Negra rather than a drive. 

 Proprietor Luigi Papa told us "I welcome your clarification and since our meeting we now walk the beach of Serra Negra.... I also welcome your suggestion to provide us with your guide so that you can be sure that we do not drive on Serra Negra beach and so you can give tourists more information about the beach, turtles and your work.  (In addition, if you like, you can also ask them for a donation to your foundation). We are happy to work with you in our tours of Serra Negra" 

We like happy endings and thank Luigi for his cooperation - the turtles appreciate it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amazing bird sightings on Sal!

Alexander's Kestrel
On a slight tangent, we had a pool of water near the hatchery for some weeks after the rain.  A guest from the UK, Steve Payne who had his telescope with us was kind enough to share his bird sightings.

For 14 days between 14 - 28 September this is what Steve recorded:

At the temporary pools at the rear of RIU hotel
Black Winged Stilt
Kentish Plover
Ringed Plover
Grey Plover
Little Egret
Alexander's Kestrel
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Yellow Wagtail
Turtle Dove

At other locations
Kentish Plover
Greater Hoopoe Lark
Bar Tailed Desert Lark
Iago Sparrow
House Sparrow

Who knew?!!!

No all we need is a bit more rain each day and to persuade the RIU not to fill up the pool with diesel after they have finished pumping all the water out of the hotel!!

Thanks for sharing the information Steve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Miracle Turtles Born

One day around four weeks ago some guests at the RIU hotel were walking on the beach and found one or two turtle eggs.  Looking around they realised that due to an exceptionally large swell there was an entire nest about to be swept into the sea.  Rushing up to the hotel they were given a black plastic bin bag and they quickly put the eggs inside and handed them to the receptionist.  Unfortunately that's where they stayed all day!

Around 4pm the brother of a driver that we work with somehow obtained this unlikely package and around 5pm he brought them down to us at the hatchery.

Looking inside Neal didn't hold out much hope for them.

Several weeks in the sand, washed over by waves, inexpertly bundled into a black plastic bin bag, sitting on the floor in an air-conditioned room all day.... could any hatchlings really be born after this?

Well, we'll try anything!  So the team put them into the hatchery and we all stopped worrying about them.

12 nights later and none of us can believe it - a solitary hatchling was born.  We waited impatiently another day, nobody daring to hope more would be born - but we were wrong!  The following night another 24 were born!

We estimate that this nest of 59 eggs was laid by the turtle on the 13 August and spent 40 days on the beach before being relocated.
Later that night on 5 October 2010, 25 miracle baby turtles were released into the sea in front of a cheering group of guests and Rangers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The killing fields of Mont Leão

SN = Serra Negra, AL=Algodoeiro, CF=Costa Fragata, ML = Mont Leão
As the nesting season draws to a close, we have time to reflect on both successes and things that did not go so well.  One of the disappointments in 2009 was the number of turtles killed at Serra Negra and one of the main objectives for 2010 was to make sure that this critical beach was well protected.  Happily, despite severe transport issues, (a Landrover that rarely runs, a three year old quad bike and our back up quad bike stolen by joyriders and destroyed), we managed to cover this beach throughout the night and the number of turtles killed was dramatically reduced.

One of the season's last nesting turtles brutally killed on Mont Leão
The story was not so happy on Mont Leão however, an area we used to patrol regularly with the help of the Camâra Municipal who provided a driver.  This year a driver was not available but they did provide some cover with the military.  The number of turtles killed on Mont Leão this year are shocking and are probably not the whole picture - some would have been taken away by pick up and we have found many shells buried.  One of the problems is the lack of suitable habitat since the ground has become rock hard with so many cars driving there, this means the turtles spend a long time ashore looking for a place to lay - giving hunters plenty of time to find them.

Another worry is that more and more turtles are being driven to this beach as the areas further south on Algodoeiro become less and less available because of construction and lighting.  It has been proven that turtles will choose less suitable habitat if their usual beaches are not available.  So while it seems that there are still enough beaches on Sal for turtles, the beach with the best conditions has always been the southwest and the beaches they are now forced to choose are much more hazardous and may not have a very good hatching success rate.

Eggs that were still inside the turtle are taken from the oviduct
Blood drained from the body to be drunk later
In a somewhat random event,  two of our Rangers were unfortunate enough to witness the death, at Mont Leão, of one of the very last turtles of the 2010 season.  The yellow undeveloped eggs, which are the eggs preferred by people on Sal, were being collected and the blood was being decanted into a bottle.  The blood, we are told, is added to wine as an aphrodisiac.

Mont Leão will be a priority for 2011 if we can work out a way to have more reliable transport and how to support more volunteers and soldiers at this beach.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fishing net nearly kills hatchlings

Here's a perfect example of why we try our hardest to get all the fishing net off the beach.  Not only is it a terrible eyesore, but it traps hatchlings in the nest and when they try to get to the sea.  Peter & Linda found this nest the day after it had hatched and these lucky babies were saved after much patient untangling.