Our curriculum currently runs for two whole school years. These are just some of the highlights we have during a normal Arribada Club programme, for both our Year One and Year Two students.
APRIL | Visiting the Turtle Beach
One of the culminating moments of the Arribada Club’s programme is, without a doubt, the visit to one of the island’s nesting beaches. Throughout the school year we talk about the sea turtles and the technologies that we use to study and protect them. And, nearing the end of our yearly activities, we finally get to see these incredible animals face to face!
The head of Príncipe’s sea turtle protection programme (Protetuga Project), Vanessa Schmitt, is ready to welcome our students when we arrive at the beach. Our trip starts with a few rules and pointers, so that the students know what to expect. There are three types of turtles visiting the shores of Príncipe: the green turtle, the hawksbill and the leatherback. The turtles use these beaches to make their nests –which the conservationists mark using numbered wooden stakes –, so we cannot disturb these. And, very importantly, we absolutely cannot throw trash on these shores!
Plastic pollution – as everywhere else in the world –, is a serious problem here. So, our first activity is to clean up every single piece of plastic we see laying on the sand. The students are divided up into groups and given a trash bag so that, on our way to the Kaxi-Tetuga Museum, we can give a hand to the conservation effort.
Once we arrive at the Museum, we get to learn all about the turtles – the different characteristics of each species, their reproductive cycle, their nesting habits, etc. But also, very importantly, the threats that they face, mainly: illegal hunting of turtles and their eggs and the plastic pollution that we must carefully avoid. We also learn about the work that is being done to protect the turtles, especially by the Turtle Guards, and we even get to see the Arribada GPS tag on display!
Then, it’s time for the moment we have all been waiting for… In order to further help the turtles, the guards usually dig out the hatchlings that are struggling the most to come out of the nests. Once they do that, they lay them in the sand, setting them off to sea. The first ever contact these turtles have with water, their natural element. And, we get to witness it!
Off they go, beginning their great journey. A journey which will hopefully bring them home again, to these same beaches. Allowing them to lay their own eggs, and restarting the cycle. Good luck!