News from the Turtle Foundation
(Newsletter September 2021)
Dear friends of Turtle Foundation,
At the beginning of September, the International Congress of the World Conservation Union IUCN took place in Marseille, France. One of the main topics this year was restoring the health of the oceans. The habitat of sea turtles has been severely affected by various human impacts in recent decades: Littering, industrial fishing, climate change, and other factors are increasingly throwing the marine ecosystem out of balance.
However, the IUCN also publishes the well-known international Red List of endangered animal and plant species. Currently, six of the seven existing species of sea turtles are listed there in the endangered categories! For the seventh species, the Australian flatback turtle, just data for the exact classification are missing; however, scientists assume a considerable threat for this species as well.
Sea turtles are fascinating animals that perform important tasks in the battered ecosystems of the oceans. They must not be let go extinct! With your help, Turtle Foundation is currently protecting five species of sea turtles in its projects in Indonesia and on the Cape Verdean island of Boa Vista.
New office in Bali
In Indonesia we have made some changes on the administrative level during the last months. While the project work of the Turtle Foundation has been organized in a rather decentralized way there so far, the increasing number and complexity of the projects now made it necessary to consolidate the administrative work. For this purpose, our Indonesian management team have moved into a new office in Bali. The location near the geographical center of Indonesia allows close contact with both the projects and the authorities. Jatmiko, Gaura, and Jayuli will now coordinate all conservation projects in Indonesia from there, enabling us to make our fight against sea turtle exploitation in Indonesia even more efficient.
Swimming courses for children
Although our project island Boa Vista is located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the majority of local children and teenagers cannot swim properly. Every year, therefore, there are fatal accidents.
In order to familiarize the children on Boa Vista with the element of water and thus also bring them closer to the habitat of the sea turtles, we started a new project under the motto “Knowing how to swim can save lives!” as part of our conservation-related community activities. The first part of the project has just been completed: The training of local swimming instructors. Now the work with the children begins. After a basic course in the swimming pool, the advanced courses will take place directly in the sea and will also include the use of diving goggles and snorkels. This will give the children their first glimpse of the magic of the underwater world. Special emphasis will be placed on recognition and correct behavior in relation to dangerous ocean currents.
Poaching on Boa Vista
On August 18, heavy rains fell on Boa Vista. After a long period of drought, the rain was eagerly awaited by the people, but it was not a good day for the turtles nesting there. Due to the water masses flowing from the mountains over the beaches into the sea, some important beach sections were no longer accessible from our camps. Unfortunately, this did not go unnoticed by the local poachers, and they made their way via another route to the temporarily unprotected beach of Cruz do Morto. After the rain subsided, our ranger patrol found the remains of three poached turtles there!
But there is also good news: despite isolated setbacks, this nesting season’s numbers of verified poaching incidents still remain low compared to past years. In addition, there is a great success of the “Sea Turtle Surveillance Task Force”, an initiative of the local nature conservation authority DNA, whose activity we support with a night vision drone and species protection dog team. At the end of August, two turtle poachers were caught red-handed on a beach near the island’s capital Sal Rei by the task force’s drone team and arrested by the police who were called in. During the subsequent search of the crime scene with the conservation dogs, a bloody knife was found as further evidence. The perpetrators have since been fined in the local court. A spectacular milestone for the application of new techniques to protect endangered sea turtles on Boa Vista!