Born in Sao Vicente, Tommy grew up in Brazil, his mother’s home country, and then came back to Cape Verde. After studying Biology and Oceanography in Portugal and the Azores, Tommy returned to his native Island. This time, he is planning to stay and is committed to protect biodiversity. To get to know him better, we asked him a few questions:
1. How come you’re so committed to protecting nature?
My family lives in true harmony with nature. I’ve always been taught to respect its value and I love and respect all living creatures. I must admit I have a soft spot for loggerhead turtles: I’d do anything for them to keep them wandering through our waters, and nesting in our sand!
2. You dive a lot: do you see lots of turtles?
This reminds me of one time, when I was diving with my dad and uncle. We found a huge turtle, probably weighing more than 80 kgs: it had been captured and tied to a buoy by fishermen who had then left it there. We must have spent more than an hour trying to free the poor anima… it was in a lot of pain, especially when my dad tried to cut the cables incrusted in its flesh. When the last loop finally freed the turtle, it started swimming away, towards the open ocean… exhausted but satisfied, we watched this giant regain its freedom.
But all of a sudden, it made a u- turn and swam back towards us. All I can tell you is that we were a bit scared: such an animal could have caused some severe damage! It got so close we could touch it… we didn’t move. It was just incredible: the giant stopped and for a split second, that seemed to last forever, it looked deep into our eyes, we felt like a wave of heat, an obvious connection with the grateful animal… which then dived back into the blue. I will never forget this moment of pure magic.
3. You work with your father on these projects. How is the collaboration going?
My father and I, we think and act almost as if we were one person, which gives us the advantage of being in two places at once! We have our differences but he is my best friend, no doubt about that. We often meet up to observe the environment, in silence, and we can see and understand things that most people do not realize. I value family a lot, even if I’m not married yet… I guess I don’t have enough time to court a woman as she deserves! I am always traveling, and I can spend months in the Protected Sea Area of Santa Luzia.
4. If peers who sponsor your projects come to Sao Vicente, what do you advise them to do?
My favorite place is the area of the ancient volcanoes of Calhau because the underwater nature is still pretty wild there. Otherwise, make sure to dive to see sharks up close, it is fantastic! Also, you should not forget to enjoy the famous St. Vincent’s nights! You can go have dinner at a local restaurant, enjoy a wonderful grilled fish or a lobster… while listening to live music! Hey, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to hear Mariana Ramos, our Ecofund sponsor of honor!