Cape Verde Islands – Boa Vista | Turtle SOS

I don’t consider myself a hero, but I can’t stand watching an animal suffer.

As a child, I brought home many wounded birds and tried to nurse them back to health. With varying degrees of success…
I intercepted mice or moles my cats had caught and set them free, far enough from home.

On Boa Vista, one of the sandy Cape Verde Islands, I ‘rescued’ a turtle. I sincerely hope it was still strong enough to survive the ocean. And that he or she is swimming out there, living well into an old age.


A walk to the wrack

I know now that you never know what will happen when you start out for a walk. Anything really.
But I didn’t think of a close encounter with a turtle in that bleak and desolate Capeverdean sandscape.

We started out in the quarter of Riba d’Olt, in the North of Sal Rei town, heading for the northern slopes of Pico Vigia and the cape of Ponta do Sol. There a lighthouse tower rustily errects into a blue sky. Then we headed down to the wide sandy beach where the wrack of the Cabo Santo Maria rests. Battered by the ocean current, to put it more correctly.



Notice the sand laden skies in these photographs. They are caused by the dry and dusty West African trade winds known as the “Harmattan”. It blows in from the Sahara and carries with it the sand that has led to the formation of the spectacular beaches on Boa Vista.

It also causes poor visibility, to the disappointment and despondency of undersigned photographer.


Turtle Foundation to the rescue

The Boa Vista Turtle Foundation is a non-profit, and almost entirely volunteer, organization dedicated to protecting and conserving endangered sea turtles.

Their short-term goal is to reduce or completely stop the killing of the turtles. Their long-term goal is to create a sustainable protection program that benefits not only the turtles but the local community in the form of jobs in tourism, resource management, etc.

You can contribute to their work by making a donation, becoming a member or adopting a sea turtle.

Their website and blog offers information about our Loggerhead turtle protection program on the island. 


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Spotting the upside down turtle.

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Noticing that the turtle was wounded and badly exposed to the scorching sun.

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So first we decided to cover it up with wet sand to prevent further dehydration and blistering. Meanwhile we looked for a ‘tool’ to dig the turtle out. It was fairly heavy, even for the two of us, and we didn’t want to increase it suffering by handling it recklessly.

The tool we ended up with was half a plastic (!) bottle we cut into a hand shovel with a Suisse Knife. Understandably, I didn’t document this bit, because I needed both hands for activities other than taking pictures. Besides, I already felt enough of a disaster tourist…

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We finally managed to set the turtle free! Unfortunately, a lump of rock prevented it from crawling out to sea. We took it away and off he went.

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