Captains log: Jan 18th 2022
Location: Cape Verde, Sao Vicente, Mindelo
During our voyage, we were contacted and invited by a divecentre DIVE TRIBE in Mindelo, located within the Archipel Cape Verde, on the island Sao Vicente.
The divecentre has a unique story to tell and we got interested to see & learn more about it and maybe even offering them a helping hand, if we could.
The divecentre Dive Tribe, run by owner Anica, came across the fact that locally many turtles were caught to be eaten, mostly by the local population. The Cape Verde islands have rich nesting grounds for loggerhead turtles.
Eating turtles is nothing ‘new’ as sailors and fishermen have been relying on them for ages, for food, BUT seeing the worldwide decrease of turtles (due to many reasons!), keeping turtles alive is getting more and more important or they will be extinct soon.
Now, starting to shout of the rooftops that these local fishermen can not catch and eat turtles anymore, might just NOT be the right approach to this project, as how would they replace their food balance or even financial shortcoming?
Dive Tribe came up with a larger plan and worked out a WIN-WIN situation for all parties involved!
They started to involve and train the local fishermen in organising local snorkeling trips for tourists to see the abundant turtles around their village of San Pedro.
This created involvement and jobs, as the boats of the local fishermen were needed to transport the tourists.
The next step was to make a deal with the local town about the financial part of organising snorkeling tours.
A consensus was found that 50% of the money paid for the snorkeling tours was used to set up and support a local school, so the children of the fishermen could get education and as most families in the village have children, they would all be involved in the benefits of this project.
A leading example on how conservation should be worked out!
As we were invited to participate in 1 of the snorkeling trips and visit to the local village of San Pedro, I must admit I was blown away by the project and the way it is run!
A MUST-DO thing while visiting Cape Verde, Sao Vicente.
The local fishermen are trained properly and deal with the visitors with the outmost respect, give excellent briefings in what to do and what not while snorkeling with the turtles.
Snorkeling with 10+ large, curious turtles at the same time, can be a bit overwhelming! The turtles get ‘used’ to be visited and are not afraid of us, humans. As soon as they hear the outboard of the small fihermens’ boat arriving, they pop up to the surface to welcome the visitors, circling around them and this goes on for about 30-45min. After that, the turtles start losing interest and are returning back to the white sandy ocean bottom, their home.
The turtle project has been set up a few years ago and more and more turtles keep on showing up. Even during the COVID times and thus the lack of tourists, the fishermen would get out, just themselves and kept on giving the turtles the attention they has started to give them all this time. When the tourists started to return, the turtles came out the same way they did before Covid times and so the success of visiting them in large numbers continued!
All of us onboard Blowing Bubbles are so proud to be able to have been an witness to this poject and to be able to give our support to Dive Tribe, San Pedro and the fishermen and ultimately the turtles!
1 turtle alive is so much more valuale then 1 dead turtle!
Check out our experience on this video: