Hola Volunteers, Supporter, and Friends -
Good news for late season hatchlings. As we mentioned in our last newsletter, the last five nests of the season (collected January fifth to thirty-first) were placed outside the nursery to hatch naturally, because we could not afford the cost of heating the nursery. On March 15th, the first two hatched after 70 days of incubation. The extra 25 days to hatch is extraordinary long, as 45 days is normal, but what is even more extraordinary was the high survival rate of 95% and 71%. The extra 25 days is a result of January nest temperatures ranging between 25° to 28°C. February temperatures have improved, ranging between 27° to 31°C, and the last three nests should incubate within 55 to 65 days, around the end of March.
An ongoing effort to raise funds to support our environmental programs has yielded fair returns. To date, 70% of local homeowners and 30% of other donors have contributed 37,800 pesos. T-shirt sale are about the same as last year and well below 2000. While on the subject of raising funds, we have developed a new web page called 'Opportunity to Contribute' as a way of letting viewers see what exactly we need in order for us to do a better job.
Clearly, more time is spent in collection of marine turtle nests than in any other Group task. Each summer, members and volunteers spend over 3,200 hours and travel nearly 2,700 miles in an effort to reach the nests before the poacher. To the new volunteers, this task gives the impression of being almost impossible, as they are challenged by heavy rain, bad roads, and the ever-present poacher. To the poacher, on the other hand, who travels the beaches barefooted, without the aid of a flashlight, and moves across the rocks between the six beaches like a mountain goat, its just an easy nights work. The first year on the beach, we quickly learned that an all-terrain vehicle would have to be put on the beach, (see photo below). Behind the wheel of the Groups Dune Buggy, volunteers and members are able to rapidly reach remote beaches over the muddiest roads and through the worst weather, well before the poacher can strike.
To reduce down time during the summer nesting season, it is essential to keep this Dune Buggy in excellent running condition. Preventive maintenance during the winter months is an important first step to protect it against the harmful effects of salt-water, sand, heavy rain, muddy roads, and heavy use. This maintenance in itself is our second most time consuming task. This year we plan to replace another 30% of the old iron rails with heavy galvanized pipe, remove all the remaining rust and repaint. We also plan to overhaul the entire brake system, wheel bearings, generator, and muffler.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Looks like fun, but don't go for
the wipers in a heavy rain