Sea turtles thrive despite our mistakes

Sea turtles face a number of natural threats to their survival, from egg development to adulthood. These threats include nest predators, beach erosion, severe storms, and land and marine predators. Despite these challenges, sea turtles have been around for more than 100 million years, surviving mass extinctions and even the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs, but unfortunately these events are not comparable to the most recent threat to the natural world: humans.

Sea turtles are injured by boat accidents, accidentally caught in fishing nets, with straws being inhaled from the nose and plastic bags choking them after being mistaken for a jellyfish. Their nests are being breached due to the demand for their eggs. Loggerhead turtles are also critically endangered due to their beautiful shells which are used to make jewellery, hair accessories, eyewear and other handicrafts. The consumption of sea turtles has a traditional value in many cultures around the world and is linked to spiritual and medicinal beliefs.

Although six of the world’s seven sea turtle species are on the IUCN list of endangered species (with the seventh species status unknown due to lack of data), these animals are exceptionally hardy. With a little help from some private individuals, NGOs, governments and interested local communities, the majority of sea turtle nesting colonies are estimated to be on the rise. Cape Verde is home to the second-largest sea turtle population in the world, after Oman, and the beaches of Boa Vista are home to most of these visiting females.

The shallow coastal waters of Boa Vista are also home to many young green turtles, which can be seen while swimming, kitesurfing or right from the beach. There are various organizations responsible for research and conservation of the island’s nesting beaches. Thanks to the efforts of these organizations and the new regulations imposed by the government, every summer there are a record number of turtles that populate the beaches with their nests. Holidays in Boa Vista are an excellent opportunity to witness the spectacle of the nesting of sea turtles with an organized turtle watching excursion.

Boa Vista is an example for the global conservation of sea turtles, thanks to the high level of inclusion of the local population in research and ecotourism. NGOs employ most of the staff to patrol the beaches and engage local communities in environmental education activities and events for all ages. The participation of locals in turtle watching tours also offers an economic incentive to keep and not consume these animals. There are many local guides who offer guided tours of turtle nesting beaches, however, when choosing a guide, care must be taken as a licence and rules are required to be able to work in these protected areas. For this reason, we recommend that you book your excursion here.