Turtles in Cabo Verde
Sea turtles are prehistoric reptiles that have inhabited the Earth for more than 150 million years and play a vital role in marine ecosystems, keeping them healthy and in balance. However, over the last 100 years, sea turtles have been facing different anthropogenic (human) threats that put their survival at risk. Currently, there are 7 species of sea turtles and they depend on coastal and terrestrial habitats for their life cycle.
In Cape Verde, five different species of sea turtles were found: Leatherback, green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill and olive. The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) our logo, is a species that is distributed throughout the oceans, being migratory and explore shallow coastal areas. The name green turtle is due to the greenish colouration of its body fat. The head is small with a single pair of preorbital scales and a serrated jaw, facilitating the feeding. In the small ones, green turtles begin to be omnivorous (they eat a little of everything), but as they grow, they become almost exclusively herbivorous. They reach sexual maturity, usually between 27-50 years of age, and females return to the beach where they were born to nidify. Each female can do between 1 and 9 layings per breeding season, with about 140 eggs each. Incubation can vary between 45-75 days and as soon as they hatch, the chicks head to the sea, where they spend a large proportion of their youth life.
It is currently a species threatened by the IUCN and CITES. The biggest threats are fishing activities, intentional capture of adults and eggs in the nesting areas, pollution and entanglement by fishing gear and coastal waste pollution. The loss of breeding habitat due to urban development and light pollution also contribute to the decline of their populations.