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Cape Verde: one of the seven wonders of the Atlantic 12 Agosto 2010

According to Katia Delimbeuf, the author of an article published in Portuguese weekly Expresso on the seven wonders of the Atlantic, the nesting of sea turtles on the islands of Maio, Sal, Boa Vista and Santiago is among the Atlantic Ocean’s most fascinating natural phenomena.

Cape Verde: one of the seven wonders of the Atlantic

The Dom João de Castro bank in the Azores, which is actually a seismically active volcano, as well as the Princess Alice bank, the fjords of Norway, the Bermuda triangle, the white sharks of Guadalupe, the wild islands of Madeira and the depths off the Azores are the other Atlantic wonders.

In Delimbeuf’s words, “highlighting seven places or activities in the Atlantic that are not to be missed is almost like choosing one’s seven favorite stars in the Milky Way…” According to her, these are “a selection of some marvels that one should see before dying.”

Delimbeuf says that sea turtles nest in various sites throughout the Atlantic and that the islands of Boa Vista and Maio are one of the five or six most important locales in the world. She also mentions Santiago because of the work that has been developed by the University of the Algarve with the sponsorship of the Lisbon Oceanarium.

The laying of eggs by sea turtles in Cape Verde has been the object of protection and preservation programs on Boa Vista on the part of the University of the Canaries for more than a decade. Under the coordination of Natura 2000, tens of thousands of the reptiles who successfully reproduced on the island, laying the foundations for environmentally friendly business Turtle Watch.

Currently, the movement to protect sea turtles in Cape Verde is a reality that has become increasingly consolidated. On São Vicente, Santa Luzia, Fogo and Maio, both public and private sector initiatives have provided an invaluable contribution in the defense of the species. The island of Sal has carried out a number of actions aimed at protecting turtles, but these have been made more difficult by the dense urban occupation of nesting areas and the illegal consumption of the animals’ meat and eggs.

On Santiago, the municipality of Tarrafal stands out in the defense of sea turtles. For the past three years, it has been providing for safe nesting on its beaches, with a permanent surveillance service set up in the district of Ribeira Prata. Since last year, it has also been safe for turtles to lay their eggs in Mangui do Monte Negro, Achada Baleia and São Francisco.

There is still much work to be done before Cape Verde is specifically sought out as a tourist destination because of the turtles that come here to nest. With a little more effort and goodwill on the part of the public sector entities with authority in the area, the country could be promoted in such a way as to consistently benefit all sectors of the tourist industry and, as a result, the entire economy. After all, should we or should we not capitalize on our potential? Simply repeating in speeches that we have potential is not enough.

Emanuel C. D’Oliveira

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