Subtropical marine areas represent biodiversity hotspots, but their ecological integrity is threatened by anthropogenic impacts. One of the most direct and pervasive menaces is the global decline of large marine vertebrates such as sea turtles, key for the maintenance of the structure and functioning of their habitats. Located in the middle of the Atlantic, Cabo Verde is one of those unique biodiversity hotspots. This archipelago supports the third largest nesting aggregation of loggerhead sea turtles in the world, making it not only of local but also of global conservation concern.
Location of Cabo Verde:
The Turtle Project
Research, Conservation and Community Engagement
The Turtle Project was created by the Eizaguirre Lab in collaboration with conservation NGOs from every island of the Cabo Verde archipelago, as well as the University of Cabo Verde and the National Institute of the Sea (IMar).
The Turtle Project is built as a citizen-science research programme tat involves local University students, local communities and authorities. This strategy has proven efficient to develop different conservation strategies with the final objective of improving the state of the sea turtle population.
The Turtle Project:
- Supports the development of conservation programmes led by NGOs and national authorities to maintain a sustainable turtle population;
- Engages in capacity building of local biologist to modern conservation techniques;
- Improves the transfer of knowledge amongst the different stakeholders in Cabo Verde;
- Informs local and national authorities in the management of natural resources based on scientific evidence.
As a result, the Turtle Project has had a great impact in three main areas: conservation, research and public engagement.
At the same time, to maximise the impact of our research and to help others reach the same goals, we have created different open-source tools based on the results of our work that can be used worldwide.
Our group is committed to Public Engagement both in Cabo Verde and in the UK. Through taking part in public events (fairs, seminars and others), supporting educational activities, and creating new freely accessible resources, we have engaged thousands of kids and adults, and helped raise the awareness on marine conservation issues.
Our community-based, citizen-science approach was awarded the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement 2016 finalist award in the STEM category for its outstanding results.