Turtles in Boa Vista Cape Verdes
Loggerhead turtles in Boa Vista
Four species of turtle breed on Boa Vista and these can be seen coming ashore at night to lay eggs, in late summer. Boa Vista has one of the largest turtle breeding grounds in the world for loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherback and green turtles. They land in summer to breed.The vast marine turtles site at Ervatao beach on sparsely populated Boa Vista . Environmentalists fear that Cape Verde's growing tourism industry will wipe out also this nesting site. 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. The slow turtle, if not disturbed, will make a nest for more than 40 whitish, golf ball-sized eggs and return to the ocean. Every year, from late May to September, more than 3,000 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) come ashore to 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 Florida Keys. Amazingly enough, the Boa Vista site was discovered only a few years ago.
"Marine turtles have been wiped out on almost all of the other Cape Verde islands, but they have thrived so far on Boa Vista where human predation and pressure is lower,"Dr Luis Felipe Lopez, a 64 year-old Spanish biology professor from Las Palmas University,in the Canaries told the environmentalist group WWF. Mr Lopez is leading a local conservation group, Natura 2000, to protect the turtles' nesting habitat at Ervatao. With only 4,200 people living on the 620 km2 island - mostly inhabiting the small town of Sal Rei and a few neighbouring villages - Boa Vista is one of the archipelago's most pristine islands.
"But for how long?"Environmentalists ask. Ironically, the island's biggest threat - and by extension a threat to the turtles - may come from the unspoiled coastline itself. With 50 km of beautiful, uninhabited beaches, the island is likely to become a magnet for sun-seekers. It is estimated that no more than 300 tourists currently visit the turtle breeding beaches on Boa Vista annually.