Palma de Majorca, 29 January 2018

Cape Verde reports record nesting figures for loggerhead sea turtles in 2017

  • Projeto Biodiversidade records twice as many nests on Isla de Sal as last year; while on Boa Vista, BIOS.CV counts four times more than in 2014.
  • Both NGOs have the support of RIU Hotels & Resorts in Cape Verde.

Projeto Biodiversidade and BIOS CV, two Cape Verdean environmental conservation organisations, have contributed, with the support of RIU Hotels & Resorts, to the increased number of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nests, a significant recovery of nesting activity on Boa Vista, quadrupling the results from 2014. In total, Projeto Biodiversidade recorded 7,634 new nests of this turtle in 2017, twice as many as the previous year, for which the figure was 4,120; for its part, BIOS.CV in Boa Vista recorded 4,688 nests, consolidating a very significant and steady increase since 2013.

These are magnificent results considering that the Caretta caretta population of Cape Verde is the third most important population of this species in the world, while also being among the 11 most endangered populations of sea turtles on the planet. RIU Hotels, BIOS and Projeto Biodiversidade are thus strengthening partnerships formed in 2011 and 2016, respectively, aimed at protecting the wildlife of Cape Verde through plans for protection of the archipelago's environment and ecosystem on Isla de Sal and Boa Vista.

This record spawning season on Isla de Sal, with 7,634 nests, started with the discovery of the first on 14 June 2017, one week earlier than the previous year, and the last on 20 November. According to data furnished by Projeto Biodiversidade, in 2017 a total of 250 turtles were captured, 14 of them rescued; however 238 specimens were lost, 203 on unprotected beaches and 33 on protected beaches.

In order to protect nests found in poor condition, the association moves them to different hatcheries spread over Isla de Sal. In 2017, 1,310 nests (17% of the total of those recorded in the zone) were moved to incubation zones, 948 of them to the main RIU Hotels hatchery located on the beach in front of the resort. In total, more than 70,000 turtles were released from the hatcheries on Isla de Sal.

As regards Boa Vista, this year BIOS.CV has identified a total of 4,688 turtle nests of 910 separate females on the beaches monitored by this association within the Das Tartarugas Nature Reserve, the zone with the highest density of this species in the world. The season this year lasted from 15 May to 20 November and resulted in more than 20,000 nests being recorded on the island as a whole. It's very important to highlight that no captures of adult females or looting of nests was recorded on the João Barrosa beach. Unfortunately, hunting of females on other beaches and at sea continues to be a serious problem on Boa Vista. A total of 29 lost females in grave mortal danger in the vicinity of the beach were rescued in wetlands or rocky areas.

Besides maintaining this hatchery, RIU Hotels finances the structural expenses of the NGOs and collaborates in sustaining the volunteers, as well as in other environmental activities with tour operators and customers. In addition, the hotels are monitored by the NGOs in compliance with recommendations for not altering the habitat of the species in the area.

Accordingly, in 2016 RIU sponsored, together with Projeto Biodiversidade, maintenance of the camps during the entire turtle protection campaign and, with its support, 20 people were hired and 40 volunteers recruited, 4,126 turtle nests were recorded, 904 nests were monitored in two hatcheries, one in front of the RIU hotels, where a hatching rate of 79% was achieved. Lastly, no fewer than 49,716 turtles were released to the sea.

For its part, BIOS Cape Verde, with the support of RIU Hotels, has expanded in 2018 from one to three controlled incubation hatcheries to avoid the loss of nests due to animal depredation, flooding and coastal erosion. In them 998 nests, 21% of the total number of nests recorded, were deposited, guaranteeing that more than 56,000 hatchlings will make it to the sea.

About Projeto Biodiversidade (Project Biodiversity)

Projeto Biodiversidade is a Cape Verdean non-profit organisation committed to the protection of wildlife through community-driven environmental protection plans in Sal, Cape Verde. This organisation works to support biodiversity, and its objective is to develop sustainable conservation projects that will inspire others to care for the natural environment around them. The NGO focuses mainly on protection and conservation of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), listed internationally as an endangered species, which nests on the island from June to October. Its team of local rangers, biologists and environmental experts in the field and volunteers, works tenaciously during this time to ensure that these animals are protected from poachers and other human threats that, unfortunately, still represent a significant danger to the survival of this species on the island and throughout Cape Verde.

About BIOS Cabo Verde

The members of the BIOS.CV team have been involved in environmental conservation and research for 18 years. In this time, they have contributed significantly to knowledge of the marine biodiversity of the archipelago and collaborated with national authorities in drafting laws to protect species and habitats and in the development of management plans for the conservation of endangered marine species. Its conservation activities have been focused on monitoring the nesting beaches of the common sea turtle (Caretta caretta) which have a high density of nests. Within this framework it has been possible to train hundreds of Cape Verdean and international volunteers on field work and to provide training programmes for tourist guides and environmental rangers. BIOS.CV also carries out monitoring and conservation activities for the osprey of Boa Vista, as well as for the population of North Atlantic humpback whales, which spawn in Cape Verde, in addition to maintaining a register of strandings of cetaceans on the island of Boa Vista. Through its environmental education and awareness-raising activities, it communicates to Cape Verdeans and the tourists who visit the island of Boa Vista the importance of protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainable development practices in the tourism industry and in other economic activities.

About RIU Hotels & Resorts

The international RIU chain was founded in Mallorca by the Riu family in 1953 as a small holiday firm and is still owned by the family's third generation. The company specialises in holiday resorts and over 78% of its establishments offer its acclaimed All Inclusive by RIU service. With the inauguration of its first city hotel in 2010, RIU is expanding its range of products with its own line of city hotels called Riu Plaza. RIU Hotels & Resorts now has 97 hotels in 21 countries. In 2023, the chain welcomed 6,4 million guests and provided jobs for a total of 35,808  employees. RIU is currently the world's 36thranked chain, one of the Caribbean's most popular, and the fourth largest in Spain in number of rooms.