Sea Shepherd and Biosfera 1 continue their successful partnership, teaming up for the second consecutive year to protect the endangered Loggerhead turtle population of Santa Luzia, Cabo Verde.
Santa Luzia is the third largest nesting site for Loggerhead turtles in the world. Categorized as a partial reserve, the region is included in the integral marine reserve within Raso and Branco Islands.
Loggerhead turtles reach sexual maturity late in life, and eggs and young turtles have a high mortality rate from natural phenomena. The added stress from poaching on the already Endangered and populations is an environmental catastrophe in the making.
The protection campaign, which focuses on anti-poaching and general protection of the Loggerhead nesting habitat in Santa Luzia, will run through the Loggerhead breeding season, until October.
The Sea Shepherd vessel, Jairo Mora Sandoval, will patrol the sea surrounding Santa Luzia, while Sea Shepherd and Biosfera volunteers patrol the land for poachers.
Volunteers will also train and engage in relocation operations when required to ensure that the Loggerhead turtles are able to nest in a safe, clean environment.
Biosfera commenced the loggerhead defense project in Santa Luzia in 2012. Prior to that time, poachers were killing on average between three and five nesting adult Loggerheads per day during the breeding season.
Now, full-time patrols conducted by Biosfera and Sea Shepherd have made poaching in the region near impossible. Since the patrols commenced, no attempts to poach have been recorded.
On the north side of Santa Luzia, thousands of tons of trash is dumped onto the beach including discarded fishing gear, nets, long lines, and floats. The trash has created a battleground for the Loggerhead turtles coming to nest, and for their hatchlings who need to navigate the trash in order to make it to the safety of the sea.
Due to the dangers the trash poses to the Loggerheads and hatchlings, volunteers move any nests found in this area to the nursery on the south side of the island. Here, the beaches are still pristine and safe for the hatchlings to get to sea naturally.
Volunteers also monitor all existing and new nests daily and biologists are always present to assist the hatchlings if required.
Alongside all this work, Sea Shepherd and Biosfera are monitoring boat activity in Santa Luzia reserve, checking for illegal traffic. Information about illegal boat activity is then relayed directly to maritime authorities in Sao Vicente.
“Everyday we have people in place on all the beaches, morning and night, to ensure the safety of the Loggerhead’s nesting,” said Jairo Mora Sandoval Ship Manager, Ryan Jones.