Hola Volunteers and Supporters
It was ten o’clock in the morning on the 25th of October, when we received the first news of a possible hurricane off our coast. A quick look at the Internet confirmed that, indeed, a category 5 hurricane the size of the Gulf of Mexico was heading our way. It was 500 miles away and was expected to hit the coast within 24 hours, with winds over 160 mph. Our first thought was the safety of the nests within the nursery, but after watching the reports from the National Hurricane Center, we realized that not only was the nursery in danger, but everything in the hurricane’s path.
Dave and I spent several hours warning people in town, then packed up our personal effects in plastic bags and stored them in safe places. When the time came, we planned to ride out the storm in the smallest room in my house. At sundown, we drove my truck across the open fields to the back of the nursery and cut the chain link fence. By three in the morning we had moved all 110 nest boxes, including everything but the building itself, to the safety of my living room.
By 9:30 AM the full brunt of Hurricane Kenna hit us with 70 to 90 mph winds. The roar of the storm sounded as if 20 freight trains were rolling through town. In less than an hour it was over, and those people who had not been evacuated began to adventure outside their homes. Almost every large tree in the area had lost limbs, with many uprooted, and almost every road in town was blocked. The beautiful jungle canopy between San Pancho and Sayulita looked as if a herd of dinosaurs had stampeded through it.
Two days later a temporary nursery had been built in my front yard. On the 7th of November, I received a visit from members of Semarnat (Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, of Mexico), with news that, except for ours, all marine turtle nurseries in the State of Nayarit, including the northern State of Jalisco had been lost to the storm. If it had not been for the extra efforts of volunteers such as Dave Dunn and Geno Lamphiear, all 110 nests containing over 10,150 eggs would have been lost.
Thanks to Hurricane Kenna, push has come to shove, and this coming nesting season we will not be operating a full-scale nursery. As an alternative to the nursery, we will be relocating the nests as we have done in the past. This extra measure of protection will keep the nests away from lights, dogs, foot traffic, horses’ hooves, poachers, and from being washed out by the river and ocean. This will also reduce our workload by 40%, and give us more time to cover the beaches.
Accordingly, the method in which we manage our volunteers must also change. Volunteers will be asked to arrive with a working partner and to remain with the marine turtle program for a minimum of two months or more, and to pay all their own expenses.
Kenna’s fury not only destroyed marine turtle nurseries and thousands of nests as she moved inland over the Pacific coast, she also destroyed the entire fishing industry of this area. The loss of the shrimp fleet, as catastrophic as it was, turned out to be an advantage because hundreds of turtles, that would otherwise have been hopelessly entrapped in shrimp nets and drowned, are no longer threatened as a result.
On the same note, Patty sent me this article. “Viagra May Help to Save Endangered Species”. Conservationists say the popular blockbuster drug could reduce demand for animal parts and marine turtle eggs used in traditional medicines to treat impotence. "As a consequence of Viagra's efficacy and popularity, certain species may soon enjoy a significant improvement in their conservation status," Journal Environmental Conservation.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.