Senegalese fishermen have joined forces to protect sea turtles. As one of the ocean’s most endangered species, the sea turtle is threatened by poaching, pollution and even fishing nets.
“We sometimes catch turtles but we release them back into the ocean. It is not good to eat them because they contribute to the preservation of marine species. Shrimps and octopuses in particular abound where turtles are found”, a fisherman, Gamar Kane said.
Plastic has become an increasing danger as turtles often mistake them for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods.
Youssef El Ali is the President of the NGO Océanium. He said cleaning up the beaches is crucial.
“What also needs to be done is to clean the beaches, because the turtle, which eats a lot of grass in the area, can start eating the plastic bags that it confuses with jellyfish. From there, ecotourism camps, bring back the tourists to take advantage of this tourist attraction. To make the population live from this tourist attraction instead of living off from the fishing of these turtles”, El Ali said.
The local fishermen association says the number of turtles have fallen by around 30 percent in the past 20 years. But visitors who come each year are almost guaranteed a memorable photo with some of the thousands that still line the coast of this West African nation.
The association is also trying to sensitize the communities here about the economic benefits of the turtles, in hopes that they can join the battle to protect them.