Our Turtle Protection Team has started work. We have heard that six turtles have already been killed along the coast. I put out an appeal for help, and some men have kindly stepped up to help with some funds. I have sent these funds over and now the Team is hard at work patrolling the coast and protecting nesting females, and their eggs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This Leatherback has been caught and turned over on its back. Fortunately we heard about it and were able to get it back on its stomach and return it to the sea.