Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Readers ~
Gearing up for the summer, in mid-April we placed plastic sheeting across the entire surface of the beach nursery in an effort to shed off early rains (mid-April through June). Last May before the first nest was placed in this nursery we received over 4.5” of heavy rain, with an additional 3” in June. As a result all nests placed in the beach nursery between June and August were destroyed due to water saturated sand.
The second project is some what like preheating an oven, within the box nursery we filled the second row with 48 boxes of ready to use sand. This sand, (some 1.5 tons) will act as thermo-mass that should keep the temperatures static at night well ahead of the first nest placed in it.
The third project or experiment will determine exactly how temperatures within the beach nursery are affecting nests. This June we are planning to cover nests 1 - 5 with 50/50 shade cloth, while leaving nests 6 - 10 uncovered.
Back to last season, after the loss of the first 50 nests in June through August due to water saturated sand, we were again forced to start placing some 256 additional nests in the beach nursery on August 29th. Although this time we were determined to correct the problem by trying something different, a method we called “the tube” this method would place a 4” barrier of semi-dry sand around the entire nest. This experiment produced a good survival rate of 78%, as compared to 7.5% received by the earlier 50 nests, plus one other outstanding benefit, only 3 nests out of 256 were attacked by parasites. Since the tube method was labor intensive, we felt it would be best this season if we just try to shed off rain before hand, hoping we don’t receive any killer waves in the meantime.
Last season; 1,430 nests were recorded, 105,200 hatchling were released, 147 Homeowners Directories (2013) sold, while 149 T-shirts were sold in the last 18 months. We currently have six nests incubating, two are Iguana.
Weather wise. April’s weather was not that hot, daytime temperatures rose into the low to mid 80°s while nights were still cool, dropping into the high 60°s. No outstanding weather events, few clouds, no rain, light winds and clear (see image below). Keep in mind, we are very fortunate to have a professional weather station in San Pancho, see http://www.sanpanchoweather.com/
The enlistment of volunteers is about the same as previous years, at this point in time we could use the help of one or two volunteers from mid-August to the end of November. To get a good idea of what is happening with the enlistment of volunteers this season go to http://project-tortuga.org/selected.html for a up-to-date of who-what and when.
Town wise, the ongoing construction of the San Pancho Gas Station is move along at a brisk pace and it looks as if it could be finished this May or early June, (see photo below). The peso dropped to about 12.0, regular gasoline $3.79 a gallon. The surface of the lagoon is slowly beginning to cover with Water Hyacinth (Blue Shell).
To date our fund drive has received seven donations from PayPal, one via the snail-mail, one in person, sold six T-shirts, and one directory for a total of 777 USD. These donations will be used to purchase all equipment needed on our first day of operation on June 1st. They are, 30 oak 3/8” rods used to find nests, 800 nests bags, 10 flashlights, 8 rolls of nests box reinforcement tape, 4 cylinders of silicone, 20 pens, 10 felt tip pens, and 212 liters of gasoline. Until we can get on our feet fanatically we think it would be a good plan to include the PayPal logo in our web newsletter.
In the mid 1900’s, countless numbers of nesting turtles had been slaughtered along the beaches of Nayarit solely for their flippers, used in the making fine boots. Only when their numbers were exhausted did the carnage end. At sea they fared no better, commercial fishing fleets trapped tens of thousands destined for the markets and canneries. By 1988, poaching along the San Francisco beaches were responsible for taking up to 95% of all nests, while killing untold numbers of adults each year. Today the story is much happier and the figures are reversed; the poachers take less than 6% of the nests, and when lucky, they may kill one a year.
From our newsletter ten years ago:
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
San Pancho's new gas station