~ Newsletter No. 231, April 2021 ~
Hola Volunteers and Supporters, it has been a busy month here at the Turtle project, here is a rundown of everything that has happened! ~
Over the past 29 years we have increased our marine turtle nest count from 200 to an average of above 1,020 nests per season. This increase is a great accomplishment. But it has also created a small problem that most people are not aware of today. Unfortunately, between November and April (aka winter) our success has also created a few more “late nests” than we would like, which amount to about 4% of the season’s total.
The problems with these late nests are:
· Since there was little rain during the winter, the sand is dry for nearly a foot down. A late-nesting turtle can spend hours trying to dig a nest hole in bone dry sand. In most cases she will place the eggs too close to the surface, which can dehydrate the eggs and leave them too cold to properly incubate. This winter has been colder than normal winters, so the problem is worse.
· The few late nests and hatchlings who do survive this cold ordeal may take 15 to 30 days longer to incubate. This extended time under the cold sand weakens many of the hatchlings. Some will not make it to the surface. Those who do make it to the surface have little strength left to make it to the sea. Their slow movement to the sea during the day makes them an easy target for birds and crabs.
· If they do make it to the sea, the frigid ocean temperatures will stun most of them.
· Because of the cold incubation temperatures, nearly all that survive will be males.
The best that we can do for late nests is to keep poachers from finding them, and let nature take its course as she has done for two million years of evolution. In the winter, the odds of producing an adult turtle are less than 2 in 5,000 eggs. It is for this reason that nature selected August and September as the prime nesting period.
After many months of tireless work our efforts have come to a rewarding conclusion. We will receive our 2021 nursery permit and new constitution within the coming weeks. I will also complete my “electronic signature” and receive a new password from SAT (the Mexican IRS) in May, including receiving a new certified public accountant. Hopefully, Jessica will receive her grant in early July, and despite the pandemic we have enlisted around 38 volunteers: 14 males, 24 females; 8 locals, 20 from the USA and 8 from France; 19 buggy drivers and 19 former volunteers.
Our ongoing battle to stop poaching has taken a good turn. We have asked the Mexican Government to give our local police more authority to arrest anyone found with marine turtle eggs or digging up their nest or handling hatchlings. The exception to this rule would be our volunteers which are required to carry a Grupo Eco identification card. The police will also be supplied with updated folder containing the volunteers photos and names for quick identification.
We would like to thank our April volunteers; Karen Sorum, Hallie Loveridge, Gale Greer, Lorren Garliche, Bob and Sandra Klusmeyer, Katie Grant, Susan Stephens, Rickey Burke, Esteban Millard, Juan Flores, and family.
We are extremely grateful to the March donors; Gale Greer, Shari Margolin, Karen Hope, Jennifer Nelsen, Dennis Colard, Rickey Burke, Susan Stephens, and Sally Williams. To donate to Grupo Eco, please go to Grupo Ecológico's PayPal portal.
Weatherwise, daytime temperatures have been in low 80s° while nighttime temperatures have been in the high 60s°. We have colder than normal nights for this time of the year, with no rain or thunderclouds popping up yet. The water level of the lagoon has dropped below normal, and the river has been dry for nearly two months. The cool weather has packed the town, beach, and restaurants with tourists, but with few masks and no social distancing.
Frank Smith, Director
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Facebook page: San Pancho Marine Turtle Project
Tel. +52 311 258 4100