Report from The Turtle Protection Team for The Egg Laying Season 2013 to 2014

These are the results for the turtle laying season in the Volta Region of Ghana. The area patrolled covered about 10 km of beach along the coast, close to the villages of Dzita and Dzita Agdbledomi where Meet Me There African Home lodge is located.

This year I was able to raise enough money to employ a team of 10 local people. The funds were very kindly donated, mostly by friends, but also by the British Chelonia Group which Donated £250. The team was make up of one co-ordinator, two team leaders, and 7 turtle guards.P1010267

The team patrols at night when the turtles climb onto the beach to lay their eggs. They know when the turtles will come ashore, times mostly dictated by the tides, and the light of the moon.

Once the turtles have laid their eggs the team ensure that they get safely back to the sea. They then dig up the eggs and carefully relocate them to a safe stretch of beach close to Meet Me There. If the eggs were not relocated they would be dug up by dogs, and by local people. We then keep an eye on the eggs and make sure the newly hatched turtles reach the sea.

P1010259Each turtle lays up to 100 eggs at a time. Leatherback turtles are critically endangered.

The World Wildlife Fund reports that ‘the leatherback turtle has survived for more than a hundred million years, but is now facing extinction. Recent estimates of numbers show that this species is declining precipitously throughout its range’.

I believe that this project can have a considerable impact on turtle numbers. For me if this species became extinct it would be an absolute tragedy for us all.

Season Results

Total turtles found = 120

Leatherback alive = 63

Leatherback killed =19

Olive Ridley alive =31

Olive Ridley killed =7

Monthly Spend

Turtle protection Team of 10

Wages : – £ 330

Equipment, batteries for torches, phone credit = £70

Total Spend per Month : £400

Months spent patrolling : October to End of March = 6 times £400 = £ 2,400

Protecting Turtles This October

Our Turtle Protection Team has been patrolling the beaches along the coast of Ghana this October. So far they have managed to protect 14 Olive Ridley Turtles, and 5 Leatherback Turtles. Sadly, they have also found 3 Leatherback’s that were killed.

GE DIGITAL CAMERASo, the turtles are again coming up onto the beaches to lay their eggs. I worry each year that they might not arrive, considering the threats they face from huge commercial fishing fleets and from all the plastic rubbish in the sea. But here they are again, thank God. And, without the protection of this team, kindly funded by friends in the UK, they all would have been killed on the beach. So, thank you everyone who has become involved in protecting these beautiful animals.

BBC News Saving the Giant Turtle

This article by the BBC states that two thirds of the turtles that appear on the beaches are killed.

It shows a picture of some men dragging a leatherback off the beach with a tractor.

For me this is very upsetting, and this approach is one we constantly face when we try to protect these animals.

The article states that 6 new sanctuaries are being set up along the coast.

I am trying to set up a sanctuary along a 20 km stretch of coast in the Volta region of Ghana.

If you would like to help save these turtles, please have a look at the website and get in touch with me.

I need your help! I am struggling to do this on my own.

Jellyfish Explosion

Leatherback turtles, which weigh up to 650 kilograms, can eat up to 70% of their body weight in a day. That is a huge amount of jellyfish. As the link below shows, there has been an explosion of the jellyfish population in most of the world’s oceans. Protecting turtles also protects fish.


“Sometimes we’ll catch 4,000 or 5,000 pounds of jellyfish. They spray all around. We get stung,” fisherman Ryan Rogers.

We are finding the same thing off the coast of Ghana. Local fishing nets are pulling in increasing numbers of jellyfish. We highlight this as part of our education effort to encourage people not to kill the turtles. People here can see the direct impact that a jellyfish explosion has on their catch. Local people depend on the fishing, and so keeping turtles alive also keeps down the populations of jellyfish. Jellyfish eat small and baby fish, so have a dramatic effect on the fish population.



Slaughtered Leatherback

Slaughtered Leatherback

Sadly, this is one we were not able to save. This pregnant female ( you can see the eggs on the left ) was killed and eaten before we could get to her.
For me it is understandable that people want to eat these critically endangered animals ( they always have ). I am trying to replace this source of meat with contributions into the community and with employment as turtle guards and guides. This female, if she has survived, could have laid up to 100 eggs, and would have revisited twice more to lay this season.

Article In Ghana Web about Turtles

I found this article on the Ghana Web.

It gives a very good overview of the problems faced by turtles trying to lay along the coast. It states that, from Tema to Ada, in 1997 there were 3,543 turtle nesting sites found on the coast. This is a fantastic number, and if all these sites were protected would infuse a considerable number of new turtles into the turtle population. Unfortunately many of these turtles were ‘harvested’. The articles also talks about how people and dogs hunt for and consume the eggs. We have found this to be a considerable problem, and when we find eggs we relocate them to a safe hatching spot. Below is a nest that has been raided and destroyed.