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Remote Sea Turtle Nesting Area Cleared of Over 4 Tons of Plastic Waste

Thursday, Mar 14, 2019

A three-day joint beach cleanup effort between Sea Shepherd and Cabo Verdean organization Biosfera has resulted in over four tons of plastic waste being removed from a remote island in the West African island country of Cabo Verde that is also one of the world’s largest nesting areas for the vulnerable loggerhead sea turtle.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Santa Luzia from previous year. Photo by Simon Ager/Sea Shepherd.
Marine debris on Santa Luzia. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Sea Shepherd crew and Biosfera volunteers removing abandoned fishing gear. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Sea Shepherd crew and Bisofera volunteers removing abandoned fishing gear. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Captain Adam Meyerson and Tommy Melo. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Sea Shepherd crew and Bisofera volunteers remove marine debris from Santa Luzia. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Marine debris loaded onto the Bob Barker for disposal. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Removal of plastic waste from Santa Luzia. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Abandoned fishing nets block the path of nesting sea turtles. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
Jairo Mora Sandoval off Santa Luzia. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.

Working from on board the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker and the Jairo Mora Sandoval, a boat granted to Biosfera by Sea Shepherd in 2016, over 40 international and local volunteers cleared marine debris from the beaches of the island of Santa Luzia in preparation for the arrival of sea turtles that would otherwise be obstructed from laying their eggs when they come to nest in June.

Between September and December 2018, Biosfera logged 5,500 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.

The loggerhead sea turtle is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, one step away from endangered, with a decreasing population due to poaching and fishing gear entanglement. Six out of the seven species of sea turtle are either listed as threatened or endangered.

An estimated 80% of the plastic waste removed from Santa Luzia was abandoned fishing gear.

The plastic waste will be delivered to the Cabo Verdean port of Mindelo to illustrate the urgency for protecting Cabo Verde’s unique wildlife at an event that will include local media and politicians.

The island of Santa Luzia is part of the Santa Luzia Marine Reserve in Cabo Verde, an ecologically important bioregion visited by Charles Darwin on the landmark HMS Beagle expedition that took him to the Galapagos Islands and laid the groundwork for On the Origin of Species.

The Jairo Mora Sandoval is named after the late environmentalist who was murdered by poachers when protecting leatherback sea turtle nests in Limón province, Costa Rica.

Santa Luzia beach clean up team. Photo by Tony Fenn James/Sea Shepherd.
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