Only ten late-season nests have been collected since mid-November. This is strange, since over the past years, Juan Flores and family, Julio, Patty and her father and other volunteers would bring in several nests a week, but not this year. The last nest was found on December 8th. Total nests recorded this season came to 962, down 24% as compared to last season, while an estimated 71,774 hatchlings were released, down 20% as compared to last season.
From 1992 to 2002, the number of nests we had recorded remained static; more-or-less 200 per season. However, by 2003, the numbers began to rise sharply to a peak of over 1,485. If the number of nests rises to over 1,600, as it very well could next season, we will not be able to accommodate the increase, thus becoming a victim of our own success. In order to lessen the workload we must make two major changes in the way we handle nests.
From January 1st through mid-June, we plan to leave the 20 to 75 late-season nests on the beach to hatch naturally. This plan may have one drawback; dogs might start combing the beach looking for nests and hatchlings. However, if we ask the public to be on the look-out for troublesome dogs around hatching nests, we may be able to lessen the problem.
We also plan to fill an average of seven nest boxes a day from mid-June through to mid-November. This will allow us to incubate up to one thousand nests in the box nursery this coming season without moving any boxes to the porch. Most of the seven daily nests will come from areas on the beach that are below the buggy tracks, near the waves and/or in bad locations. Any nests beyond the daily seven will be left on the beach and disguised, more-or-less, as a turtle would do.
To confuse the poachers, we will dig several false nest holes around a nest site before we disguise the area by enlarging a nest site from two square yards to sixteen. We will also create other decoy areas that have no nests at all, including making false turtle tracks.
Hopefully all these measures will make it almost impossible for a poacher to find the nests. This plan will also allow us to leave up to 45% of our nests on the beach to hatch naturally and allow us to completely remove the beach nursery. The tool we will by using to disguise the nests is an asphalt rake (see image below). All the above measures will significantly reduce our workload.
Now, by saying this, I must stress one important fact to anyone that wants to bring us a nest they have found on the beach: Don’t! Any nest that is moved after eight hours of being laid on the beach will most likely be destroyed due to handling. Our nests are quickly placed in a box or relocated on the beach within two hours.
Volunteer wise: January volunteers are, Beth, Hemmie, Julio, and Lisa. Good news, from mid-June to the end of August, Joslin, Starlie and Summer will returning to San Pancho as volunteers.
We need many more volunteers, especially return or former volunteers that can train, supervise, lift nest boxes, drive the dune buggy, etc. See our website http://www.project-tortuga.org/html.selected for the latest enlistment.
Weather-wise: Daytime temperatures were generally between the mid 70°s to mid 80°s, nighttime temp had dropped into the high 50°s (few times) to the low 60°s. Except for very cold nights, there were no unusual weather events. Total rainfall for the month was 0.01inches.
The 2016 Homeowners Directory has been published. If you have not received your copy, please drop by my house. Also, we have lots of T-shirts in various sizes and colors.