In Conversation with Project BioDiversity
On World Ocean Day we chatted with the lovely Shannon from Project Biodiversity, our charitable partner, based in Sal, Cape Verde.
Project Biodiversity is a Cabo Verdean organization committed to conserving and restoring the island's unique ecosystems.
Talk to us about a ‘Typical day’ (if you can call it that!) in Sal ?
It's currently sea turtle season so our sea turtle control team will be monitoring the beaches to protect the female sea turtle against poaching - they are poached for their meat.
Sea turtle patrol! Especially at night - we start with an evening briefing, and then dispatch to the beaches of concern. We spend 5/6 hours patrolling the beaches to make sure the female sea turtles get to their nest safely. If they lay their eggs somewhere that’s considered dangerous, the morning team will move them.
We cover 21km of nesting beaches during the nesting season. There are 7 different species of sea turtle around the world. In Sal you can find 5 of them.
Longer head sea turtles are only 1 that come to nest regularly in Sal. Its the 3rd most important nesting site in the world- they balance the marine eco system. Eg. They provide nutrients for the dune vegetation from the leftover/broken eggs. This can prevent flooding and other issues.
Hatcheries - they are like a sea turtle nursery! There are many in all different areas of the world, all have different ways of protecting them.
In Sal, the team will make sure the hatcheries are in a safe location. Things that make it not safe can range from stray dogs, poachers, light pollution coming from hotels and beaches that might be affected by tourism.
It's okay to move the eggs because the mothers, once they’ve planted their eggs, will never return to the nests. The baby sea turtles have to make it on their own!
Incubation period is 50-60 days. Sometimes we have to stay the night next to the hatcheries to make sure they hatch okay and get to the sea!
Threats to baby turtles - they so small and and so vulnerable. Bigger fish/sharks/crabs can grab them on the beach and in the sea. This is natural and normal and part of the circle of life!
Human threats are what we need to protect them from. Baby turtles will follow the brightest horizon which is the reflection of the moon on the sea, however in areas of large light pollution they will go the opposite way. We help with that.
Plastic pollution is a big threat. Micro plastics - the baby turtles will feed on plankton when they get to the sea, micro plastics have a negative effect on their ability to survive.
We also protect sea birds, all similar threats to them too. Obviously they’re interlinked in the eco system
Red-billed tropical birds span a wide area of habitats - they nest on land but they feed on the ocean which makes them good indicators of what is going on in the eco system. So we learn from them and how to manage the threats.
Micro plastics effect them too, especially when they’re young, it will get trapped in their blood stream. We work with the University of Barcelona to identify the threats, then mitigate them.
With the increasing level of tourism we need to work with the local governments to create partnerships to make sure there are always safe sanctuaries for the birds to nest and the sea turtles to lay eggs.
Another huge issues are ghost nests and waste plastic - which is what PAPER is helping out with! (By making some of our swimsuits from this.)
Ghosts nest are commercial fishing nets that are thrown into the ocean and left there, then they float around the ocean for many years. The main problem with this is that they trap and kill all sorts of marine life from small fish to whales. All important for our marine life. They cannot untangle themselves, so we need to get rid of them. They can go decades accumulating animals.
What PAPER do is really important to put an end to these ghosts nests.
Things to consider - the environmental impact of fast fashion - understand where your clothes are coming from and their environmental taxation.
Anyone can get involved to support us, a nice way to do it is our adoption program, you can adopt a baby turtle or a nest through donations - you can name a baby turtle, you get a certificate. Plus buying PAPER's coconut swimsuits can also help our cause!
With every Coconut Swimsuit you buy we will donate part of the proceeds to help support the work they do to keep the wonderful wildlife on the island flourishing.
'Human threats are what we need to protect them from'
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