WWF - Cape Verde: tourism or turtles?

WWF - Cape Verde: tourism or turtles?
By Olivier van Bogaert*

Slowly dragging its shell onto the beach, a turtle emerges from the ocean. It is midnight and the moon is casting its shadow over the remote, white-sandy coastline of Boa Vista — one of the ten islands that make up the West African island-nation of Cape Verde.

The strong sea breeze does not seem to bother the turtle as it slowly, but determinedly, finds its way among the dunes in search of a safe spot to lay its eggs. Once found, a two-hour ritual then begins as the prehistoric sea creature meticulously digs a 30cm hole with its rear flippers. This exhausting exercise will provide a nest for more than 40 whitish, golfball-sized eggs. After covering the hole with its hidden treasures, the turtle will slowly return to the sea, never to know what becomes of her offspring.

Later that night and further on down the beach, dozens of turtle hatchlings break through another nest after days of digging, only to begin their frenzied and chaotic rush towards the waves.

Every year, from late May to September, more than 3,000 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) come ashore on Cape Verde's beaches, particularly at Ervatao beach, the third most important loggerhead nesting site in the world after Oman's Massirah Island and the Floridian keys. Amazingly enough, the Boa Vista site was discovered only a few years ago.

WWF - Cape Verde: tourism or turtles

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