Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends
On the morning of Monday, July the 25th, Tomas A. Fresh passed away in Ojai, California. Throughout the late 90's, health issues held Tom one step away from the door of a convalescence home. By 2002, his worst fears were realized, as he had to spend nine months in a nursing home, which he called "a spirit robbing hell hole." With the help of a friend, he eventually escaped and made his way down to San Pancho, where he enjoyed the people and the weather for over two years. With his health failing, he returned to the States and the home of a friend.
By August first we had collected over 32 nests, which is about normal, and four of these nests have hatched. Believe it or not, as of August 1st, the poachers have not been able to take a single nest; perhaps after fifteen years we've worn the few poachers out, I know we have convinced the community that the marine turtle is worth saving.
Driving the dune buggy has taken on a new meaning. In the past it meant a good chance of a breakdown and a long walk back for help. Today, after a massive overhaul, the buggy is reliable as any new vehicle, and a pleasure to drive. To guarantee it stays in good condition, we have identified thirty-one key maintenance items that must be checked weekly.
A nursery under siege: Around the end of June, an iguana set up housekeeping in the roof of the nursery and was, unfortunately, ripping holes throughout the walls and roof. Every attempt to stop this reptile failed until we decided to blend up a concoction of killer red peppers with cooking oil, and carefully painted this smoldering brew over the roof. Needless to say the iguana vanished that night in a cloud of smoke. Speaking of clouds, a week later, thousands of flying termites coming from the nurseries interior were quickly ejected out the door via a high-speed cyclone fan. Later while checking the nests for moisture, we found ants in five boxes. After dusting the shelves with Stop-Ant, what next?
In mid July, Jim and Linda arrived with a new 100-foot roll of plastic sheeting to recover the nursery, and three days later we stripped the nursery down to its bare wood frame and shelves, and with a high-pressure water cleaner (950 PSI), we completely and carefully washed the termites, and their tunnels away.
Over the past two months, nursery operators and Mexican authorities have found and recorded over forty-five dead marine turtles that had washed ashore in a one hundred mile area between Nuevo Vallarta and San Blas. To date, there are no clues to what is killing them, although to get a jump on this situation, Semarnat (Secretary of the Environment and the Natural Resources) has quickly set a temporary lab to examine the dead turtles as they are found. In the past year we have found five dead turtles on our six beaches, where normally we would have found only one in a two-year period.
Weatherwise, we received our first good rain on July the 7th. Rainfall amounts for June and July are well below normal, only 9.3 inches, while during the same period last year we recorded 18.7 inches. The lack of rain has not affected the jungle at all; in fact it is about as healthy and as radiant as it can be, although the river is still dry. The endless blanket of clouds that have failed to produce much rain have given way to the rolling form of the towering cumulus, a welcome change which may lead to more rain.
As predicted, the slash-and-burning of the mountains behind Puerto Vallarta has left its mark on the Bahía de Bandaras. Although the rains have been light, and no flooding, the rivers leading into the Bay have turned it to a light caramel color for a distance of one mile out from the shore; not good for tourism, the watershed, and nesting turtles to find their way to shore.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
México (311) 258-4100
America Latina #102
San Francisco, Nay., México
Per-season cleanup of the nursery
June/July Volunteers, Christopher Sours, Mexico; Petersenn
Keillor, Canada; Jim and Linda Sorter, USA; Andres and