Turtle watching in Cape Verde is possible and can be a highlight of your holiday. Cape Verde is home to loggerhead turtles, and furthermore has one of the three largest nesting populations of these lovely gentle animals. The turtles live in the ocean and make their nests in the sand dunes on several of the Cape Verde islands. Most notably on the islands of Maio, Sal, Santiago and Boa Vista.
The female turtle will normally come onto the beach from three to five times and at intervals of between 10 and 15 days. She will build her nest and lay her eggs and as many as 100 every time. The eggs will then hatch in approximately 60 days. Baby turtles then make their way into the sea, although some do not survive.
Turtles mainly nest between July and October. To see the turtles hatch and make their way to the sea you will need to be there in August/September. It is possible to arrange organised tours of the nesting grounds and in addition the hatcheries. Money raised in this way helps to fund the specialist work of the conservationists. Sadly people hunt these gentle animals for food, furthermore the eggs are at risk of being stolen. In addition, they have to contend with the building of large tourist resorts, which removes sand from the beaches.
The Cape Verdeans take the protection and conservation of the turtles seriously. There are several projects set up to conserve these animals and to maintain and preserve their nesting sites. These projects are always grateful for support. You can support these organisations by straight donations; by sponsoring a nest or by adopting a turtle. One such organisation is Maio Biodiversity Foundation (http://fmb-maio.org) on Maio island. Another similar organisation is SOS Turtle (www.turtlesos.org) on Sal island.
If you walk through some of the sand areas, or have hired a quad bike and visit the sand dunes, you will see signs in some locations prohibiting vehicular access. This is to protect the turtles and their nests and should be observed.