There were 673 Olive Ridley Turtle nests and 2 Leatherback Turtle nests recorded on Kissemba Beach as of mid February, 2015. Pictured is a baby Olive Ridley Turtle. Photo by H. Koning.

There were 673 Olive Ridley Turtle nests and 2 Leatherback Turtle nests recorded on Kissemba Beach as of mid February, 2015.

Last month, the Angola Field Group was invited to visit Project Kitabanga at its location in Zaire province. Here we joined some university students patrol the 3 kilometer stretch of protected beach. There were 673 Olive Ridley Turtle nests and 2 Leatherback Turtle nests recorded on Kissemba Beach fr0m September 2014 to mid-February, 2015. The Science Faculty at Agostinho Neto University has been running its research project at Kissemba Beach since 2011. Project Kitabanga started in 2003 at Palmeirinhas Beach, south of Luanda. The Angola Field Group began its annual Turtle Trips in 2004.

View a video titled “A Weekend Away on a Turtle Research Trip” produced by Robyn Fox, February 2015.

There were 673 Olive Ridley Turtle nests and 2 Leatherback Turtle nests recorded on Kissemba Beach as of mid February, 2015. Pictured is a baby Olive Ridley Turtle. Photo by H. Koning.

Pictured is a baby Olive Ridley Turtle. Photos by H. Koning.

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UPDATE: THIS TRIP IS NOW FULL. Since 2004 the Angola Field Group has joined members of the Agostinho Neto University team of biology students who patrol the beaches of Angola during turtle nesting season, September to March. This year the Kitabanga project has invited us to Praia Kissemba, north of Ambriz. in Zaire Province. Last year we were very fortunate to watch a female leatherback, the largest of all turtles, come ashore to lay her eggs on this beach.

We will leave on January 31, Saturday morning at 6:30 AM and return Sunday afternoon. The location is about 25 KM north of Ambriz. It takes about 4 hours to reach the beach from the outskirts of Luanda.

Requirements – you must be self sufficient in terms of camping and food. 4 wheel drive required. We will be leaving Luanda on Saturday morning at 6:30 AM, with the students who need to get there early. Saturday night we will patrol the beach with the team looking for turtles.

To register for this trip, you must have valid documents since the trip crosses two provincial borders. Email: Henriette Koning at angolafieldgroup@gmail.com and please indicate:
    •    names of participants
    •    cell phone number
    •    do you  have room in your vehicle for an extra passenger?  keeping in mind camping gear takes up space
    •     will you be leaving from the city or from Luanda Sul  

Final trip details including our meeting location will be given once you’ve signed up and are confirmed for this trip. All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk.

Now confirmed, Turtle Trip, to Musserra in Zaire Province, 25 km north of Ambriz with Agostinho Neto University Biology´s turtle conservation project, January 17 – 18. The Angola Field Group will join biologist Michel Morais and his research team from Agostinho Neto University for our annual Turtle Trip to watch the females come ashore to lay their eggs. This year we will visit the project at Praia Kissemba, about 6 hours north of Luanda.

Requirements – you must be self sufficient in terms of camping and food. 4 wheel drive required. We will be leaving Luanda on Friday morning at 7:30AM  in order to get to the beach in time to set up camp and explore the area. We will leave the beach on Saturday before noon so we can get back into Luanda before dark.

To register for this trip, you must have valid documents since the trip crosses two provincial borders. Email: Henriette Koning at angolafieldgroup@gmail.com and please indicate:
•    names of participants and cell phone number
•    do you  have room in your vehicle for an extra passenger, keeping in mind camping gear takes up space
•     if you will be leaving from the city or from Luanda Sul 

 All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk.

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Click to enlarge map.

University professor Michel Morais and graduate student Sofia Pereira presented to a full house last week Thursday. Participants at the Angola Field Group presentation learned that the university’s Kitabanga Project has protected about 9,000 nests since the project started 11 years ago. Check the following link for more details in a newspaper article published the day after the presentation: www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-31/angola-s-sea-turtles-snap-back-in-number-after-conservation-aid.html.

Inspecting a nest, Angola Field Group annual overnight Turtle Trip. Photo courtesy Susannah.

Inspecting a nest, Angola Field Group annual overnight Turtle Trip. Photo courtesy Susana Borges.

Since 2004 the Angola Field Group has joined members of the Agostinho Neto University team of biology students who patrol the beaches of Angola during turtle nesting season from September to March.

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On December 2012 we camped at the project’s new site where Rio Longa empties into the ocean. While walking the beach at night hoping to find a turtle laying her eggs, we found instead 5 dead turtles in various locations along the beach.

Dead Olive Ridley female turtle. Photo courtesy Susana Borges.

Dead Olive Ridley female turtle. Photo courtesy Susana Borges.

One of the biggest threats female turtles encounter along the Angolan coast as they come ashore to lay their eggs, is the risk of getting caught in a fishing net and strangling. The number of nets launched too close to shore keeps increasing. Projecto Kitabanga works with fishing communities raising awareness and teaching them about the vulnerable condition of turtles in the world today. The university team also works with children and schools in the fishing villages. The project created the book “Tartarugando”, a colorful teaching tool.

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More than five hundred thousand baby turtles have been born on beaches under the protection of the Kitabanga Project.

Freshly hatched baby leatherbacks find their way to the water. Photo courtesy M. Mohlerova.

Freshly hatched baby leatherbacks find their way to the water. Photo courtesy M. Mohlerova.

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Did You Know?

  •       Turtles have been around more than 200 million years while humans have only been on earth 5 million  years.
  •       Out of every 1000 baby turtles born, only 1 or 2 reach adulthood.
  •       The sex of a turtle is determined by the temperature in the nest.
  •       After birth, male turtles will never come ashore again while the females come up to land only to lay their   eggs.
  •       Turtles can swim long distances, even across oceans.
  •       Turtles are a threatened species in the world today.
  •       The number of turtles has declined significantly in Angola.
  •       It is against the law in Angola to catch a turtle or to dig up its nest, resulting in a fine of up to 100,000 kwanzas or 1000 USD.

 

Map showing Rio Longa.

Map showing Rio Longa.

UPDATE: This field trip is now full. We are accepting names for waiting list only.
TURTLE FIELD TRIP, camping – Friday December 14th to 15th, 2012, with the Projecto de Conservacao de Tartarugas Marinhas, Agostinho Neto University, Faculty of Biology.

WhereRio Longa, a three hour drive south of Luanda, where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean. We will set up our tents at the university’s base camp on the mainland and in the evening will take a 5 minute boat ride across the river to the beach where the turtles come onshore to lay their eggs.

Crossing the river.

Crossing the river.

When: We will leave the city at 12:30 noon on Friday the 14th, and meet up with folks from Luanda Sul at 1:30 PM, at a meeting point to be announced. Departure will be the next morning whatever time you prefer to leave. 

What: A four wheel drive vehicle is needed to get from the main road to the shore of the river, about a half hour trip. We will set up camp and have a braai together, then at about 10:00 PM  we will cross the river with the students and patrol the beach and watch for the turtles to come onshore. Expect to walk at least two to three hours. Thus far 320 nests have been identified. We may also be tagging some turtles and putting collars on them for tracking.
Please note it is not recommended to swim in the river since there are crocodiles. Also, base camp is rustic, just a covered area to put up your tent and 2 simple toilets. Participants must supply their own food and camping gear. (If you have a zodiac or other powered water craft that you can take on this trip, please let me know. The river is beautiful and has a lot of bird life and monkeys.)

Who: This trip is open to Angola field Group participating members. To register for this trip, email Henriette Koning at angolafieldgroup@gmail.com. We must keep numbers to a strict limit so please only sign up if you’re serious about going and if you can comply with the time. Final trip details including our meeting location will be given once you’ve signed up and are confirmed for this trip.

When you are registering for this trip please indicate:

* if you have room in your vehicle for more passengers and how many can you take
* if you do not have transport and need a lift
* if you will be leaving from the city or from Luanda Sul
*if you informally signed up at the November 29 presentation at the Viking Club

We are collecting $25.00 from each participant to donate to the Marine Turtle Conservation Project.  All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk. No guarantee of spotting turtles.

Field Group participants relaxing on beach where turtles nest at night.

Field Group participants relaxing on beach where turtles nest at night.