Help Us Protect Cabo Verde’s Sea Turtles

Help Us Protect Cabo Verde’s Sea Turtles

Made up of ten volcanic islands, Cabo
Verde lays 570 kilometers off the coast of North West Africa, and along with an
abundance of wildlife both on land and at sea, around half a million people call
the islands home. As with many small coastal countries, Cabo Verde’s local
fishing vessels are finding less and less to catch as foreign industrial
fishing vessels move into their waters. Along with this, the land and marine
ecosystems are under attack from pollution and marine debris caused by
these large-scale fishing fleets. Local NGO Biosfera works tirelessly to
protect the unique and precious nature surrounding the islands. Led by Tommy Melo,
the small team has been operating since 2006. In 2014 Sea Shepherd began assisting Biosfera in their work, and in March of 2019 the Bob Barker and her
crew returned to the islands to assist in the protection of Santa Lucia – an island
located within a marine protected area. Along with over 20 volunteers from
Biosfera, the crew of the Bob Barker would assist in a large-scale beach cleanup on
the northern beach of Santa Luzia, which is one of the world’s most important
nesting areas for the loggerhead sea turtle. The Loggerhead sea turtle is listed by
the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable – one step away
from endangered with a decreasing population due to poaching and fishing gear entanglement. Between September and December of 2018,
Biosfera logged 5500 sea turtle nests in Santa Luzia making the protected
island one of the world’s largest nesting areas for Loggerhead sea turtles. Cabo Verde is the third largest
egg-laying site in the world So we’re here in Cabo Verde, we’re
underway from Mindelo going to Santa Luzia to do a beach cleanup with
Biosfera, a local NGO that we’ve been working with for the past three years. So
Santa Luzia is a very important turtle nesting ground there’s several types of
turtles that nest on there. They start nesting in June, and this beach, because
of the way it faces into the currents catches a lot of discarded fishing gear
a lot of plastics and it makes it impossible for the turtles to nest on
the beach. So every year these guys go out and clean the beach up before the
turtles come and haul all the garbage away. They have one of our old vessels
the Jairo Mora Sandoval which some of them are on board and there’s about
22 of them on our ship. So when we get to Santa Luzia we’re
going to launch the two small boats and shuttle people ashore where they’ll
spend the next four days cleaning up all the debris that gathers on the turtle
nesting Beach – Santa Luzia – and bringing it back to the Bob Barker so we can
dispose of it properly. You are here in Santa Luzia Marine
Reserve, in Cabo Verde. It’s the huge marine reserve in Cabo Verde. We are here with 25 to 30 volunteers, and what we try to do is to clean this beach. This beach can take
at least 3,000 nests of sea turtles every year. This is why since 2010
Biosfera has to make this clean campaign every year because every year we have the same amount of trash coming from the sea. Most of them are nets,
which are really really dangerous for the marine life. It’s a death trap
for the small turtles. For the little ones, when they come
out it’s absolutely impossible to come up this. They become trapped
on this and they die. What are we dealing with? Well, we’re
dealing with a lot more rubbish than what we were actually expecting. Like
this is mainly fishing gear, like industrial rubbish and industrial litter
and the amount of fishing gear on the beach it’s just staggering and it’s
all just like….this is trawling gear from industrial trawlers. It’s like one
meter to 10 meter pieces. Just the thought of all these little turtles
getting stuck on the nets is absolutely horrifying. It’s sad to be in a place like this
where there is nobody living here, so this isn’t trash that’s generated on
this island, this is trash that comes from somewhere else to this island that
is only inhabited by birds and little lizards and that’s it you know and and
the turtles come here to nest they’re trapped in all this trash and they die
and it’s all because, you know, people don’t want to replace their fishing nets
more often and people want to have cheap seafood. We’ve just made a conscious
decision that the economics of the thing is more important than the environment
and its just not the case once this is once everything dies from this doesn’t
matter how much money we have. Originally when we met Tommy he was
running back and forth in a little inflatable dinghy and you can see today,
well, down the beach there’s 50 or 60 people here cleaning up rubbish you know
and even that is not enough people. So to do that with a rubber dinghy is
impossible. We had the Jairo Mora Sandoval as a boat and we were happy to give
it to Biosfera, and we’ve been funding the fuel for the boat and training for the
Captains so it’s something that we really could use extra donations
for to help this cause, to help Biosfera do this clean up every year. Without
cleaning up this beach it’s just a death trap for the Turtles. The mother
turtles are going to come to the same place every year no matter what it looks like
so if this looks like this on the beach they’re gonna come up and try and dig
they’re gonna become entangled and exhausted and they’re gonna die on this
beach and if they manage somehow to lay the eggs and get back to sea, the babies
are gonna die on this beach. So by keeping the beach clean, it’s critical.
We can’t just leave the beach because it will be the end of
the turtles here this is a very important nesting ground for several
species of turtles. Biosfera has been doing this since 2010 and
unfortunately I can’t say that with every year I see less trash. No
it’s almost the same, or worse. It’s not our trash, so this is the pollution
from fisheries all around the North Atlantic. I don’t know how we can make a
solution for this but we will keep working and until the day we have a
solution because the turtles just come onshore every year. Following four days of cleaning, Biosfera and Sea Shepherd were able to remove over four tons of plastic waste
from Santa Luzia. The plastic waste was removed from the island and taken aboard
the Bob Barker in order to be properly disposed of back on land at the port of
Mindelo. On the beach yesterday I would say
80 to 90 percent of the trash that was on the beach was fishing gear, and
one of the problems of course is it’s illegal for a boat to discharge plastic
in the sea that was in fact the first part of the marine pollution act that
they made, the MARPOL regulations the first thing was is that you can’t throw
plastic in the sea. And to have this exemption basically for fishing vessels
to throw plastic in the sea as part of their job and then if it breaks loose
from the vessel nobody can be held responsible for that plastic. And it’s it’s really not fair to expect
NGOs like Biosfera and Sea Shepherd to bear the cost of cleaning up this fishing
gear when the fishing companies are making huge profits off the fishing. After coming to Cabo Verde and meeting
the people and seeing what’s going on here and seeing how hard they work with
the limited resources they have, it’s really imperative that they have
organizations like Sea Shepherd to help and lend a hand because they definitely
have the will and the hard work and the know-how and what the problems
are but to be able to to get the money and fundraise off of that is a difficult
thing it’s put upon us as people that It’s put upon us as people who care about the Oceans and care about the world to come and help in the situation. The oceans are all connected there’s no
Cabo Verde Ocean, it’s the Atlantic Ocean which flows into
the Southern Ocean which flows in the Pacific and the Indian
they’re all…you can drive a ship from one of the other they’re not like walls
in between them, so anything that happens in one affects the other ones and so we
always have to take care of all the Oceans. I can see even in the time that
I’ve been with Sea Shepherd, which is only since 2011,
that there’s been a big drop at sea of Seabirds and Dolphins of all the rest of
it, and that really the Oceans are dying and we need to do something
about it right now it’s not something we can put off down the road

Randy Schultz

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9 thoughts on “Help Us Protect Cabo Verde’s Sea Turtles

  1. Ink_25 says:

    That turtle at the end, so cute (and so vulnerable…)

  2. Jonaiker Mera says:

    Genial Amo Todo Lo Que Hacen. ❀️😱

  3. dee clark says:

    Phenomenal essential work. You are the best. Huge thanks for all you do

  4. Vince W says:

    Great work, did humans not also deprive all these islands of forest hunders of years ago for the shipping industry? Just goes to show the negative impact we have on remote areas.

  5. panuwat areekit says:

    Keep fighting. Encouraged from Thailand.

  6. Ian Cannon says:

    Plastic and fishing should be BANNED!!!!😑😑😑😑 We don't need either,and both are a damned disgrace and are destroying this beautiful world!😑Also,ALL seafood contains plastic,now!😑 Fish,whales, prawns/shrimp,turtles,oysters, mussels,ALL seafood has been contaminated with damned plastic!!!!😑😑😑😑WHAT AN ABSOLUTE BLOODY DISASTER!!!!😑😑😑😑 I'm SO happy that I quit eating meat,including fish,years ago!!! It's been over 5 years now!πŸ˜‰πŸ‘ May GOD Bless Sea Shepherd for ALL of the wonderful work that they do!!!!!!πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»

  7. Schnick Schnack says:


  8. J Gomes says:

    ok guys i m with u 100% , but here is my question what is cabo verde goverment doing to help?? and i still think you guys should start sinking the boats and taking the ships into the cause, i mean dont you think a ship helps more above the water instead of under it?? more ships more volunteers more progress especially if we could join without having to be vegan and not having to have clean records.


    What a mess! And this is what we can see, imagine in the Ocean!

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