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
lease subscribe to the blog or follow us on Twitter or on our Facebook page to keep up to date. (You can also read this blog in a different language, please use the tool in the sidebar).
You can apply to volunteer with us by clicking here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Turtle Festival / Festival das Tartarugas

The culmination of our kid's summer programme will see 100 kids parade through the streets of Santa Maria in the turtle costumes they have made.

The parade will start at 10am at the Cultural Centre accompanied by the kid's drumming group "Raios Vermelhos".

No âmbito do programa educativo “Oficinas de Verão” vai-se realizar na próxima terça-feira, dia 30 de Agosto, o Festival das Tartarugas. O Festival terá inicio pelas 10:00 h no Centro Cultural e conta com um desfile de máscaras, animação musical pelo grupo de batucada Raios Vermelhos, pinturas faciais e bancas informativas da SOS Tartarugas na praça.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Big Three is back!

Big Three (tag numbers UUC830 & 831) is very special because everything about her is SUPERSIZED!

She was first seen on Costa Fragata (east coast of Sal) on the 28 August 2009 and tagged by Neal and Mariel.  Then again on the same coast on 9 September (seen by João) and finally on 21 September seen by Lauren, Joe & Leah.

All of her three nests hatched well with an emergence success of 84% for the first, an incredible 94% for the second and 76% for the third.

This year she was seen on the same coast and the same section of beach on the 18 September and once again nested succesfully.  How amazing would it be to know where she has been for the intervening years?

What are the BIG THREE?
1. She lays huge nests - 90 eggs, 116 eggs & 116 eggs (average 80 for other turtles)
2. Carapace length of 101cm (usual average 82cm)
3. Carapace width of 94cm (usual average 78cm)

Can't wait to see her again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ready for baby turtles...

The cages are on the first few nests in the hatchery which means it is nearly hatchling season!
We need cages on the nest so that if they hatch while we are not there the hatchlings don't waste precious energy running around the hatchery.  Rangers check the hatchery every two hours throughout the night.

The second reason is that sadly the hatchlings get eaten by both cats and dogs, so as the cats have become more adept at getting into the cages, we have also had to reinforce them with secure lids.

Nests take around 54 - 60 days to hatch, so Nest 1 could be hatching around the 21 August.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Say goodbye to turtles on the west coast of Sal?

After an incredible night on Serra Negra on Saturday with 9 turtles followed by Sunday with 11 turtles we had a quick look at the data to see if this unusual amount of activity was replicated on Sal's other beaches.

Sadly, the answer was no, in fact the west coast of Algodoeioro, the area with all the new resorts had barely one track over the two nights.  Turtles choose dark beaches and despite the willingness of the resorts to make some small changes to improve the situation, it may be a case of too little too late.  The RIU hotel is a fine example of low impact development, it is set back from the water and has no exterior lighting visible from the beach.  Unfortunately the same cannot be said further up the coast as planning permission was given for lit walkways, street lighting & exterior lights very close to the high water mark.
Lights from Paradise Beach
The sharp decline in nesting in this area is immediately obvious from the graph below.  Although we will have to wait for the end of the season before knowing the final percentage of nests, it can be seen that Algodoeiro has gone from 32.9% of nests to a paltry 13.82%.

Serra Negra is the one area on Sal that suffers hardly any light pollution (although the glow from Santa Maria is starting to intrude) and so an unusual number of turtles are being forced to forgo their usual beach and head there.

No problem?  Not really, because Serra Negra is a very small and narrow beach with problems of innundation and flooding - it is not really suitable for the density of nests we are seeing there now.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The return of Ryanne

You may remember the upside down turtle buried near Kite Beach in the hope we wouldn't find her (see earlier blog entry).  Thankfully Rangers were able to rescue her and return her to the sea.

Well we are really happy to report that she was seen safe and well again on Serra Negra on the 5th August.

She was originally tagged by Janice and adopted by the Morton family who visited us in 2009 and adopted a nest in the hatchery.  They have named her Ryanne and are coming back to Cabo Verde next month (now that would be an incredible story if they saw her!)

They sent us this lovely email
"Please thank the rangers on behalf of my family for the rescue of turtle "Ryanne", just been on the blog and seen all the pics of her rescue, we are proud to be involved with the great work you all do and are looking forward to seeing you all in September."

Remember turtles, Serra Negra, the site of our permanent camp, is THE place to be for safe and happy nesting!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Turtle surprises fisherman in the middle of the day!

Graciano, a resident of Santa Maria, was spending a relaxing Sunday fishing on Costa Fragata when to his great surprise he saw a turtle emerge from the water beside him!  The turtle walked along the edge of the water in front of him before heading inland a few meters and proceeding to dig a nest.

Grace has a brother who lives on São Vicente, who, by happy coincidence, participated in our conservation workshop for other islands only a few weeks before.  So Grace called Diolando and Diolando called us.  We thought it could be a joke but no, there she was at 4pm, quite happily digging her nest and not at all disturbed by all the people surrounding her.

Grace was very happy to assist with tagging and measuring the turtle before watching her safely back into the sea.  He chose to name the turtle after himself and was presented with a certificate of adoption.  Hopefully we will see her nesting again and be able to give more news about her.

Grace was very happy to witness a turtle nesting for the first time and sent us this message:

"Não têm de agradecer, pois fiz aquilo que qualquer pessoa que respeita a natureza teria feito. Proteger tartarugas é um dever de todos. Para mim foi uma glória ter assistido aquilo, pois pela primeira vez tive a oportunidade de ver uma tartaruga a desovar.   
Quanto ao nome, pensei em registar-lhe com a minha alcunha - "GRACE", isto porque quando a encontrei disse: - "Esta é a minha tartaruga..."

Um santo dia, e continua com "POWER" neste trabalho que para mim é um gesto nobre para com a natureza.

(Don't thank me, I did what any person who respects nature would have done.  Protecting turtles is a duty for all.  For me it was an honour to have witnessed it, for the first time I had the opportunity to see a turtle lay eggs.  

As for the name, I thought to record it with my nickname - "GRACE", this because when I said when I saw her  : - "This is my turtle ..."
A blessed day, and continue with "POWER" - to me this work is a noble gesture to nature.

Click here for a video of Grace nesting.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hunters vs Rangers in a battle for the turtles

There is always a period during the season where hunters are out in force and the Rangers are on red alert.  This year is no different.

Over the course of the last six days Rangers have saved three turtles and seen two dead turtles. 

The first dead turtle was found at a beach between Kite Beach and Serra Negra, an area that does not get patrolled regularly.  The police are fairly certain that they have the culprits since they left behind blood stained clothes which links them to the crime.

The second had been taken at Ponta Jelonga (near Igrijinha), a beach that we patrol all night and in the morning as well.  At first we were very confused as the turtle seemed to have come ashore on the rocks and we had not seen the really obvious drag mark, but then it became clear that this was a special case.  This turtle was in fact a male and had been taken at sea, landed by boat and brought ashore to be killed.  Every single part of the turtle had been taken except for the carapace (shell) which is unusual.  The tale, however, had been left attached and the length of it made it clear that it was not a nesting female.  The turtle was 92cm, a loggerhead male in his prime.

More photos here.

The first turtle to be saved was on July 21st on Kite Beach.  This turtle had been turned upside down and buried in the sand in the hope that we wouldn't find her.
Fortunately, although she was exhausted from her struggle to get up, she was otherwise unharmed and Rangers were able to get her back in the sea. 
More photos here.

Another turtle was found a long, long way inland by our friend and volunteer, Nelson.  The turtle had left Kite Beach and wandered inland for around 1km, almost reaching the main road!  Just before she got there someone had flipped her upside down and attempted to drag her away.  Fortunately Nelson was on his round island tour, found her and immediately called us.  Happily, the turtle was tagged and quickly returned to the sea.  How glad are we that we received a grant to buy a second hand pick-up.  Without that our work would be much, much harder.

More photos here.

As if that wasn't enough, we received a call at 3.30am on Monday from the Rangers on the beach near Paradise Beach (Algodoeiro).  3.30am!  When most normal people are tucked up in bed, not walking up and down the beach!  A group of hunters had been apprehended.  They had flipped a turtle and were about to take a turtle her back home to kill.  The turtle was to be transported on the back of a donkey.

This turtle was saved and the police are going to easily trace the owner of the donkey. 

It was only after she had returned to the sea that we realised that she had been interrupted while nesting.  Fortunately all the eggs were safe and were relocated to the hatchery for incubation.  Now the adopters of Nest 18 have a great story to tell about 'their' baby turtles!

More photos here.

This beautiful and lucky turtle has not yet been adopted.  Email SOS Tartarugas if you would like to name and adopt her.  You will receive a certificate and lots of information about her.  Plus, when she is seen ashore again you will receive an immediate update.