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Newsletter No. 35, August 22, 2002

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Hola Volunteers, and Supporters -

So why only half the nests this season? A recent visit to Semarnat the Mexican Government agency that is responsible for protecting marine turtles and other endangered species, revealed the answer. It seems that the drier than normal weather along the Northern Pacific Coast of Mexico, especially in the months of May and June, caused as many as half the nesting turtles to skip this season rather then try to nest along the bone-dry beaches. To date this season, we have only protected 104 nests as compared to 205 at this time last year.

The dry weather has also cut the number of nests on the other five beaches, north and south of San Pancho by less than 8% of normal, resulting in a savings of time in patrolling, fuel and vehicle maintenance cost. Although the reduced number has not dampened spirits of the volunteers.

Except for poaching on Playa Los Chololo, the far north beach, poaching has virtually stopped on all other beaches. Over the past three years many nests have been taken from there, over the past several weeks we have received several reports that a crew of ten employees hired to construct a home above this beach is slaughtering the turtles for food. A talk with the property caretaker and contractor has produced a guarantee that all poaching will stop at once.

Except for the buggy’s steering box and tires, the entire front end or suspension system has to be replaced as soon as possible. The last trip to Questo Beach almost proved to be deadly when the buggy took an unexpected direction of it own. The next day we found that the trailing arm and ball joints had disintegrated, and rust was about to eat up what's left. Finding a used front end at a junkyard and having Santana garage install it should not be a problem. The entire project should cost less than $250. The only other problem was resolved two weeks ago when repairs were made to the transaxle front mount. It was replaced with a stronger, modified steel mount that will last longer than the buggy.

As scheduled, the first nests boxes began hatching on August 11th to the enjoyment of visitor and hotel guest alike. Incubation of the first half dozen or so nests has been at best problematic, especially this season with only half the normal nests. The problem is caused by the lack of adequate thermal mass (nest boxes filled with sand),during the month of June and early July causing nest and nursery temperatures fluctuate dangerously between the night lows and day highs. By mid July the problem is minimized as the collection of nest rapidly increases, and the larger thermal mass keeps nursery temperatures static.

Seven volunteers have finished their tours and returned home sun burnt, mosquito bit, and contented I hope. Another seven are on the job today (see photo below). Four others are scheduled to join us in September, although this number will not be enough, and as many as three more volunteers will be needed. In any case It has been a good season for all of us, despite the lack of nests and little rain.

Except for the jungle vegetation that seems to be doing well, the lack of rain continues to be a problem for nesting turtles, the buggy and humans alike. Unless there is a change in the weather, this is going to be the driest in a decade. Except during three brief storms the river this year has not flowed at all. But when it does, large quantities of valuable water were flushed to the sea, and the river was dry by morning. And still to this day, both cattlemen and some property owners are busy slash-and-burning everything they can get their hands on.

Our Local hotel, The Costa Azul Adventure Resort, has afforded both the local schools and Grupo Ecológico an opportunity to raise money this Fall. It works like this; during ten days San Pancho Days Celebrations, September 26th through October 5th, the Resort will give the Group 25% of their profits made from any of the twenty-nine “$120 Room Only Rates”.

This is a great opportunity for the Group to raise needed funding and for others to visit San Pancho, take part in the celebrations, the running of the bulls, the carnival and fireworks displays. The group will also be giving evening tours, and presentation at its nursery, later young hatchlings will be release. For more information please e-mail us.

Frank D.Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.

Dan and Kate left, Ali and nick center back
Marie, front and Darren and Febiola right

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