This season’s big news was a surprise visit by a small nesting Hawksbill turtle. The volunteer that found her mentioned that she and her eggs were the same size as the Ridley’s although her shell was beautifully colored. It will take up to sixty days for the eggs to hatch sometime around November 19th.
Another thing that took us by surprise, warmer than normal ocean temperatures caused the marine turtles to begin nesting about a month earlier than expected. In other words, the number of nests we would normally receive in August, we received in July. At the other end, the number of nests we are receiving this October is what we would normally receive in November.
On September 3rd and 4th, Norbert, a category 3 hurricane, came within 240 miles of San Pancho. Unfortunately, this event happened just before sundown when Norbert’s waves joined forces with the new moon high tide and destroyed the beach nursery. The fate of the nests within it is unclear at this time, but we should know more by October 6th. To add to the damage, the nests were buried under 4 inches of additional sand and the next day the nursery received 3.5 inches of rain (see photos below). Then on September 14th, Odile, a category 4 hurricane, came within 190 miles of our shores, but the tides were low and few high waves entered the nursery.
Aside from the possible loss of 199 nests, while dozens of others nests were washed out along the beach.
Due to the fact that the box nursery reached full capacity on August 21st, and its counterpart on the beach was destroyed on September 3rd, we were forced to quickly find another location to place new, incoming nests, ideally an area that waves would not reach. That location was a very narrow strip of sand directly behind the homes north of Costa Azul. To date this small nursery received about 32 nests. By September 20th, we were once again able to place nests within the box nursery, safe from heavy rains and hurricane waves.
Total nests recorded by the end of September came to 1,005. Of this number, 686 were placed in the box nursery, hatching at about 85%. The beach nursery that was destroyed by hurricane Norbert may produce a small number of hatchlings if we’re lucky. Nests moved to a safer location on the beach will hatch on October 24th. Poachers have taken 32 nests.
September volunteers: Joslin, Starlie, Summer Bertrand and Linda Sorter from the USA, Simon Baker from England, Zach Wilson and Tim Lang from Australia, Manuel Murrieta and Julio Martinez Gonzalez from San Pancho. Returning home was Paulina Maria Sosna from Poland, Paige Thomsen, Jessica and Mark Hiller all from the USA, and Matej Madacky from Canada. Also see Selected for the latest lineup of our volunteers. Two new volunteers for October/November are Sophie Subira and Jaya Keating.
Weather-wise: Daytime temperatures were mixed, mostly in the high 80°s to low 90°s, while night time temps were mostly in the low to mid 70°s. Waves generated by Cat-3 hurricane Norberto and Cat-4 Odile were about the only outstanding weather events in September, other than nine days and/or nights of rain, some light wind and mostly cloudy days. By the end of September, we had received about 9.8 inches of rain and a season total of 33.7 inches. All hurricanes were non-threatening (except to our nursery). Through the night of the 10th and into the morning of the 11th we experienced an unusually beautiful but powerful lightning storm.
I would like to thank all those who sent donations via PayPal. The request for help went out via our newsletter and with the help of San Pancho Info. We received nearly 600 dollars at a time when we needed it the most. We thank you very much for your concern and help.
Billie G. Taylor Coaching Services
Without adequate help, our work can become difficult and at times exhausting. But lack of adequate help not only impacts our ability to save turtles, it also creates a serious financial shortfall. From June through November, we are obliged to pay rent on three apartments in order to guarantee their availability for summer volunteers. Without rent-paying volunteers, the Group would have to make up the difference out of its own limited funds. Without notice, many enlistees cancel- no e-mail or phone call returned, not giving us enough time to bring on other help. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to stop this from happening and it causes a big drain on our funds.
I remember the “St. Francis Day Celebration” over two decades ago, as one of towering firework displays, hundreds of game booths, carnival rides, places to eat and drink along with many different national dance troupes performing on stage. The crowds were so thick you could hardly move. This year, first day of the celebration, the plaza that once held these great events, was nearly empty.