Yesterday I went on my first patrol. When dusk set in, I was ready to go to the beach: my bag was packed for the night, my official SOS Tartarugas t-shirt was on, and my head torch was ready.
SOS Tartarugas patrol beaches all over the island of Sal. The turtles no longer nest on the beaches close to town because of light pollution from streetlights, bars, and hotels. As soon as it gets dark on the island, groups of rangers head out to the different beaches on the island. Last night two of us went off to Costa Fragata to patrol the beach.
As we were walking down the main road on our way to the meeting point a group of kids ran up to us saying “Tartaruga! Tartaruga! Há uma tartaruga na praia!” – there is a turtle on the beach! We followed them and sure enough, there was a turtle on the beach preparing to nest! I have seen turtles nest hundreds of times by now, and yet, each time I’m amazed as if it were the first time. And I was not the only one to be excited: the group of kids stayed with us for the entire nesting process.
This turtle’s carapace measured 86 cm in length. Add a head and a tail, and you get a majestic animal over a meter long! She laid 67 eggs, covered up her nest, and returned to the sea. Let’s hope that she will come back again soon!